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Move to 6-hole not a problem for Castro

Shortstop goes deep for first time since May 8 after manager Maddon slides him down in lineup

MIAMI -- With Starlin Castro struggling of late, Cubs manager Joe Maddon had a message for the shortstop as he dropped him to the six-hole in Monday's 5-1 series-opening win in Miami.

"I asked him just to back off a little and just go play and have a good time and see what happens," Maddon said prior to the game.

Apparently Castro received the message, as he notched a solo homer in the eighth inning for his first home run since May 8. Statcast™ projected the drive, which was hit over the left-field wall, to land 427 feet from home plate.

"I just wanted to get him to be comfortable out there and just go play like when you're a kid," Maddon said of Castro, who finished 1-for-4. "Don't worry about making mistakes or anything. Just go play, because his work is fabulous."

Prior to Monday's win, Castro hit fourth for 15 of the past 16 contests, going just 15-for-64 (.234). Right fielder Jorge Soler (hitting .265) replaced the 25-year-old in the cleanup spot and went 0-for-4 with an RBI.

"It's just to lighten Starlin's load a little bit," Maddon said. "I just think he's been trying a little bit too hard, and I think Soler has been ascending a little bit. So I just thought I'd flip-flop those two guys and see what it plays like."

Since sliding into the fourth spot on May 13, Castro hit only one double and notched four RBIs with no homers. He hit in either the fifth or sixth spot in the order for the previous 29 games.

Castro's homer against Miami was his fourth of the season. He's now hitting .265 with 25 RBIs in 49 games. He also committed an error in the contest for his 12th of the season. Maddon said that, along with his offense, the sixth-year shortstop is trying to get his defense on track.

"Even though he's been in the league many years, he still has a ways to grow defensively, and he's going to grow," Maddon said. "We're going to help him grow, and I'll stand by this guy. I think he's awesome. By the end of the season, you're going to see him making all those plays."

Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for
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