Starlin Castro: Problems follow me

CHICAGO -- After being near gunfire on two separate occasions this offseason, Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has decided to move his family from the Dominican Republic to Arizona.

And the Cubs think it's the best thing for him.

"He made a not insignificant step to move to Arizona and start his training early," Cubs president Theo Epstein said Friday evening at the Cubs' fan convention. "I was proud of the way he responded to a difficult situation.

"Too many problems over there [in the Dominican Republic]. I have to move. I have to do something so I'm not involved in negative things. I'm not that kind of person. I want to always be on this team."
Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro

"I think he has to take some responsibility for the situation he found himself in, and I think he does."

According to his agent, Paul Kinzer, Castro was walking through a parking lot while an "assassination attempt" was taking place on somebody. A second time he was simply near gunfire during a concert. Both times Castro had conversations with the police. He admits it was scary.

"In the wrong situation [at] the wrong time," he said. "It's tough because right now the problems follow me."

It's not the first time Castro has been in the news. In 2012 he was accused of sexual assault but no charges were filed.

The Cubs aren't concerned with the past as much as they are the future, and they're happy with the way he's responded to these latest incidents.

Over the past couple of years there's been talk of Castro being traded, but never coming from the front office. No one doubts the talent, as he's made three All-Star teams before his 25th birthday. But the Cubs could get a lot for him on the open market and have highly rated shortstop Addison Russell getting closer to being big league ready. A question of character in regard to any player can find that person on the trading block.

"Starlin has responded to this adversity really well," Epstein said. "He's taken a mature approach and figured out he needed to make changes. He needed to change his environment."

And that's what Castro is currently doing. He's made no bones of the fact he wants to stay a Cub and win a championship in Chicago as he finally has some talent around him for the first time in his career. Castro has never finished higher than fifth place in his five years with the Cubs.

"Too many problems over there," Castro said. "I have to move. I have to do something so I'm not involved in negative things. I'm not that kind of person.

"I want to always be on this team."

Last offseason Castro got serious about his conditioning and subsequently made his third All-Star team after a down year in 2013. This winter he's addressing his "environment."

"It was a wake-up call of sorts for him," Epstein said. "I think it's going to end up being something good for him."