Starlin Castro's occasional lapses in concentration drive his manager batty.
"We're seeing a lot of the same stuff that we still need to get better at on a consistent, daily basis with at-bats and defense and all that," Dale Sveum said Sunday.
Who knows what thoughts might be distracting the Cubs' 23-year-old All-Star shortstop in the field as he chomps on a huge wad of gum and allows his eyes to wander into the crowd as the pitcher prepares to throw the ball?
But what is known is that a calming influence in Castro's life is expected to arrive in Chicago this summer – his family from the Dominican Republic.
"All of them – my father and mother and my three brothers and my sister. I think about that every day. Oh, yeah!" Castro said with a huge smile during an interview with the Tribune.
Castro grew up poor in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic. He is the oldest of five children raised by a fisherman who worked hard to provide shoes and a glove for him.
"It's unbelievable, man," Castro said. "I will feel great when my family is here."
The adjustments for most big league players from outside the United States involve much more than learning to hit the curveball or turn a double play.
"This is his fourth year in the league. He is doing very well," said countryman Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs' left fielder. "I hope he can keep progressing day by day. First of all when you come here, you have to learn the language. Then, when you make it to the big leagues, you have to work hard to stay."
Castro, who became the youngest player to lead the National League in hits (with 207 in 2011), was signed to a seven-year, $60 million contract extension last season. He enters tonight's game against the Pirates with 579 career hits and a career batting average of .295.
Soriano continues to mentor Castro and offer advice.
"It's very difficult," Soriano said. "When you get a lot of money, you want to buy a lot of things. But ... you have to be smart.
"[Castro] has got his father and his brothers watching him, and that is good. He feels strongly about his father and he wants his family around him all the time."
Castro said he values Soriano's advice.
"He helps me all of the time," Castro said." Not only on the field, but out of the stadium too. … He is one of the guys that tells me the truth and how important I can be for this team, and how important I have to be."
Castro's critics believe he should be a finished product by now, but he said he is making progress in all aspects of his game.
"Oh, my gosh. It's unbelievable. It's a big difference," Castro said. "In the minor leagues, it was way different. I feel real good right now, compared to my first year."
Castro says he's happy he has the means to take care of his family.
"My life changed a little bit [with the contract], but not too much," Castro said. "The only thing I want to change is the life for my family. Not for me. ... The only thing I want is to make my family comfortable."
And eventually that could bring greater comfort to Sveum and Cubs fans.