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Starlin Castro’s sore hammy needs more time

Chicago Cubs' StarlCastro during an exhibitispring training baseball game against Colorado Rockies Tuesday Feb. 26 2013 Phoenix. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Chicago Cubs' Starlin Castro during an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Colorado Rockies Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) ORG XMIT: AZMG1

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Updated: March 4, 2013 11:50PM



MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs have been taking a cautious approach with Starlin Castro’s left hamstring injury. Now they’re taking the extra-cautious approach.

Manager Dale Sveum, who originally had hoped to have him back in the lineup Monday, said it could be another week before ­Castro returns. He suffered the injury running out a ground ball Feb. 27.

‘‘Probably maybe this weekend, Monday-ish, right now,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘But he’s fine. He did everything [Sunday].’’

So why the extra week?

‘‘Because we have plenty of time,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘A week from now, you’re ­talking about [March 10 or 11]. We’ll have 20-plus games after that, which is plenty of time for him to get in Opening Day shape.

‘‘[If this were] the regular ­season, he’d probably be playing.’’

Better with age?

Alfonso Soriano hit a home run and an RBI double against the Cleveland Indians. He said he’s feeling better at 37 than he has in previous springs.

‘‘I feel good, because I’m ­surprised I have my timing so quick,’’ said Soriano, who hit six home runs last spring. ‘‘It’s only five or six game and I’m feeling comfortable at home plate.’’

Is he getting better with age.

‘‘That’s what I think,’’ Soriano said. ‘‘The older I get, I have more experience at getting my timing quickly.’’

Arrivederci, Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo left camp to join Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic. It was a decision he did not take lightly.

‘‘I asked Dale [Sveum],’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘I actually spoke with Jed [Hoyer] and Theo [Epstein], and I personally asked Dale myself what he thought.

‘‘Obviously, he wants me in camp, and I want to be in camp. We have to build as a team. But for the time I’ll be gone ... I don’t think it’ll be much of a distraction. And as far as playing and getting injured, I’m not ever worried about that.’’

Rizzo said he wanted to compete on the international level, even if it wasn’t for Team USA.

‘‘Just to throw on an international jersey ... just growing up watching the Olympics, the World Cups — I think it’ll be cool,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘Although it’s not the USA, I think it’ll still be cool to participate in something like this.’’

Barney in the fold

Gold Glove winner Darwin Barney received the biggest raise among the 21 pre-arbitration-eligible players signed by the Cubs on Monday. Barney was bumped from $500,000 to $562,000. (Angels outfielder Mike Trout received $510,000 as a pre-arbitration-eligible player.) Rizzo went from $480,000 to $498,000. Travis Wood went from $480,000 to $527,000. Welington Castillo went from $480,000 to $503,000. The major-league minimum is $490,000.

Dueling shortstops

Cubs shortstop Javier Baez and Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, who opposed each other in Monday’s spring-training game, grew up in Puerto Rico and played with and against each other in high school. Lindor was the eight overall pick in the 2011 draft. Baez was the ninth.

‘‘He’s a really cool guy and we’re close friends,’’ Baez said. ‘‘When we played in the Jupiter [Fla.] tournament, I was like, ‘We have to get drafted 1-2. No matter what, we have to get drafted at the same time.’ And it happened. It’s ­unbelievable.’’

Contributing: Gordon Wittenmyer



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