MINNEAPOLIS — It was only 15 months ago that then-Cubs manager Dale Sveum threatened to send struggling young stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro to the minors.
“No one wants to go down to the minor leagues,” Rizzo said that day. “Whatever happens happens.”
What happened was Rizzo and Castro endured subpar seasons, Sveum was fired at season’s end, and now both players are representing the Cubs in Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Target Field.
“Oh, yeah, after that bad year I had last year, it’s going to be a good one,” Castro said. “A perfect one, because now I’ve got that confidence back to keep going every year.”
Castro, voted in by players, will appear in his third game, while Rizzo is making his All-Star debut, after being voted in by fans in the National League Final Vote.
“A lot of people write you off so quick in this game,” Rizzo said. “It’s not unfair, but it is what it is. Castro, I’m really happy for him. We’re both happy to be here and happy to be here together too.”
Sveum was let go in part because of his tough-love managing style, particularly toward Castro. New manager Rick Renteria has seemingly had a positive effect on the shortstop, who chafed under Sveum’s criticism.
“We talk a lot,” Castro said of Renteria and his staff. “They’ve got confidence in us, they trust us, they’re letting us play baseball and that’s the kind of thing you want. You have your talent. You know who you can be, and that’s what you need — people that trust you and let you play.”
Before meeting with the media Monday, Rizzo made sure to say hello to Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. He said their feud during Thursday’s game at Great American Ball Park is officially history.
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