Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/7/12

There’s no doubt that Starlin Castro is talented, but when it comes to the All-Star shortstop, the criticism almost always revolves around his maturity. He’s bumped into problems with the law and his work ethic has been spotty during his tenure with the Cubs. While Cubs manager Dale Sveum noticed improvement in Castro’s attitude last season, he believes more growth is necessary. “What I want to see out of him is just keep progressing mentally,” Sveum told CSNChicago. “And understand the process of becoming a winning player and not a hit seeker. [It’s] becoming more of a winning hitter — in situations, by driving runs in, understanding the situations defensively. “He came a long way, but still has to even concentrate more. We’ve got him probably — just throwing a number out there — really focused 80 to 85 percent of the time. We got to get that to 95 percent of the time. I don’t think anybody ever really focuses 100 percent.” Castro used to be a liability on the defensive side of the diamond, leading the majors with 29 errors in 2011. He made strides on that end last season, working with teammate Darwin Barney to improve his fielding. The 22-year-old also delivered at the plate, hitting .283 with 14 home runs and 78 RBIs. He flourished despite an uncertain contract situation, but the Cubs quashed those concerns by inking him to a seven-year extension. With that distraction aside, general manager Jed Hoyer expects Castro to have a career year. “This is roughly when he should start to break out,” Hoyer said. “He’s going to start making that jump. The contract situation certainly was something that was on his mind last year. He now knows how we feel about him. He knows he’s got security. “All those financial issues — [he] doesn’t have to worry about those things anymore. While last year that might have distracted him, I think this year that should be something he’s relaxed about. He can just go out and play. I would be disappointed, candidly, if he didn’t take a step forward next year and I think he feels the same way.”

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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