Credit: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune
ChiTown is spreading the love for our second baseman, Starlin Castro. From comments by Cubs manager Joe Maddon “He was a great teammate here” to current Cubs players like Anthony Rizzo “He played hard and played every day”, the warm accolades about Castro are overflowing in the Chicago papers. As Rizzo went on to say, “He was here for a while and part of this two-year run. But I’m sure he was pulling for us. I’m sure it would have been great for him to be a part of it, too, but I think a little part of him was.”
The Cubs will honor Castro before today’s game at Wrigley Field as a thank you for his contributions while a long-time member of the Cubs organization. From the 2010 to 2015 seasons, Castro played in 891 games and batted .281/.321/.404. He hit 62 home runs with 363 RBI’s and 75 stolen bases.
I am sure that it will be tough for Castro to watch Adam Warren and Aroldis Chapman accept their World Series rings from Cubs President Theo Epstein and Maddon, considering he was part of the rebuilding effort that led to the championship run. He played six seasons in Chicago’s North Side, while you could piece together only one season collectively for Warren and Chapman (if you include Warren’s time in the minors).
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I fully expect a loud and rousing ovation for Castro when he comes to bat for the first time today. He has always said the right things about his time in Chicago and I don’t think I really understood before how willing Castro was to accept the position change from shortstop to second base during his final months as a Cub. It had to have been a huge letdown but he didn’t complain or argue. He embraced the change and has continued to improve as a second baseman.
I am very happy that he’ll be recognized by the city of Chicago and Cubs fans. But of course, once the first pitch is thrown, he is a Yankee and his job will be to beat the Cubs.
While three Yankees will be having fun reminiscing, one Yankee returns to the field of his arch-rival. With so many years in St Louis as a member of the Cardinals, Wrigley Field is like a Yankee setting foot on Fenway Park turf for Matt Holliday. He’ll have no trouble going to war when the games begin.
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It will also be interesting to see how Chapman does. I don’t expect any spillover from his negative comments about his handling by Joe Maddon in the World Series (the two have apparently talked and mended fences since then, plus Chapman was right). I think Aroldis will be a pro when he takes the mound. He played a huge role in getting the Cubs to the World Series and certainly deserves the ring he’ll receive.
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I forgot to mention Yankees manager Joe Girardi as this is a homecoming for him too. A Chicagoland native, he is also a former Cub (1989-1992, 2000-2002). I am sure that he’ll have fun visiting with friends and family. When I think of Girardi and the Cubs, it always reminds me of a very tragic day. On June 22, 2002, Girardi, then the Cubs catcher, took the microphone to speak to the Wrigley Field crowd moments after a game with the Cardinals was scheduled to begin. A very emotional Girardi spoke the words “I thank you for your patience. We regret to inform you because of a tragedy in the Cardinals family, the Commissioner has cancelled the game today. I ask you to say a prayer for the St Louis Cardinals family.” The crowd was silenced. The name had not yet been released but we subsequently found out that Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile had been found dead (heart disease) in his hotel room. I have always admired Girardi for how he handled the situation that day even though he didn’t know Kile.
Among the Coaching Staff, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild was the long-time pitching coach for the Cubs prior to his arrival in New York (from 2002 to 2010). Bullpen coach Mike Harkey played for the Cubs in 1988 and 1990-1993.
Here are the pitching match-ups for the Yankees-Cubs series:
NYY: Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.14 ERA)
CHC: Kyle Hendricks (2-1, 4.18 ERA)
NYY: Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 4.15 ERA)
CHC: Brett Anderson (2-1, 6.23 ERA)
NYY: Luis Severino (2-2, 3.86 ERA)
CHC: Jon Lester (1-1, 3.67 ERA)
Gary Sanchez is expected to be activated before today’s game. He is the one guy capable of stealing ratings away from The Aaron Judge Show. It’s going to be so much fun watching those two in the lineup together again. It’s an awesome time to be a Yankees fan!
Credit: Seth Wenig/AP
Have a great Friday! Let’s show the World Champions that we can play this game!