Castro's Debut Causes A Stir In Chicago





CHICAGO—What a great debut.

Prized shortstop prospect Starlin Castro set a major league record for most RBIs in a debut with six in a May 7 win against the Reds.

All seemed well in the world for Cubs fans. After all, the club had scored just five runs when they were swept in Pittsburgh in three games just before Castro arrived.

Castro's Wrigley Field debut a few days later did not go as smoothly. The 20-year-old received a standing ovation before the game but committed three errors, including a play in which he loafed and allowed the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez to take second base. The phenom was booed loudly.

So, which is the real Starlin Castro?

The Cubs are obviously hoping for the player who dazzled in Cincinnati, but he will be a work in progress.

Before Castro was born, the Cubs had another hot-shot shortstop prospect, Shawon Dunston, and he came to town in 1985 with plenty of hype. Dunston had his ups and downs early in his tenure, and was sent back to the minors his first season, but he still carved out a productive 18-year career.

"The first time I came up, I wasn't ready mentally," Dunston told the Chicago Tribune. "He has to go through the mental part. Physically, he's fine.

"He's going to have some tough times. He had a good day his first game. I didn't have a good day until May 4, when I hit my first major league home run in 1985."

Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old in 2006, Castro hit .376/.421/.569 in 109 at-bats for Double-A Tennessee.

Castro was encouraged by Dunston and teammates to shake off the boos from the Wrigley debut.

"I told him that's baseball," third baseman Aramis Ramirez told reporters. "It can happen to anybody. It happened to him. I'm pretty sure if you watch baseball long enough, you're going to see it happen to somebody else."

Cubbyhole

• The third annual Road to Wrigley game will take place July 7 at the historic Chicago park, pitting low Class A Peoria against the Kane County, their low Class A Midwest League rivals. The first game, in 2008, featured the same two teams and drew 32,103 fans.

• Nearly forgotten in the Castro hype is another top shortstop prospect, Darwin Barney, who on May 15, nearly hit for the cycle for Triple-A Iowa. He went 3-for-6 with a triple, a home run and four RBIs. Through 181 at-bats, Barney was batting .315/.337/.403.