Stars May Be Aligned For Cubs' Castro





PEORIA, ARIZ.—It was purely a coincidence that new Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and hot shortstop Starlin Castro arrived to spring training on the same day.

Both generated plenty of excitement for the team's future.

Cubs fans are hoping that the Ricketts era means a World Series championship is in the organization's future. And they are hoping Castro, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2006 and turned 20 on March 24, will be a key to that elusive prize.

Castro will have a lot to prove to convince fans who were disappointed with hyped prospects Corey Patterson and Felix Pie in the past. But he lived up to the hype in manager Lou Piniella's eyes over the first weeks of spring training drills—this after hitting .299/.342/.392 between high Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. The veteran manager started putting the Dominican star in good company when talking about his game.

"He's got good hands," Piniella said. "He can swing the bat. You know, he reminds me, just from first glance, a little bit of (Edgar) Renteria when he was younger. He uses his hands well to hit. He stroked the ball quite well."

Castro, using an interpreter, was trying to downplay the attention.

"I never asked anybody to compare me with (Renteria). I just like to play the game the right way."

Piniella said he didn't want to rush Castro, but later in camp said Castro could find his way on the major league club if current shortstop Ryan Theriot was injured.

Meanwhile, fans in Chicago are already burning up sports talk radio lines suggesting the Cubs start Castro at short and move Theriot to second base. Castro will likely open the season at Triple-A Iowa, but Piniella won't be afraid to promote him quickly if need be. Piniella said Castro's demeanor and confidence makes it hard to believe the kid is just 20. And Piniella added that he was Alex Rodriguez's manager when the budding star was coming up in Seattle and that A-Rod came up and was sent back down to the minors a couple of times before he was ready to stick in the majors.

Cubbyhole

• Another prospect, outfielder Tyler Colvin, had a homer and two doubles in the Cubs' Cactus League opener and hopes to land one of the final roster spots when camp breaks. Last year, he played in six major league games for the parent club in September.

• The Cubs agreed to a deal with Cuban defector Juan Yasser Serrano, pending the pitcher passes a physical. The 21-year-old righthander throws in the 90 mph range and could start the season in Daytona or Tennessee.