HOU@CHC: Carter crosses the plate on Castro's error

CHICAGO -- There's been a lot of talk about Starlin Castro's hitting mechanics. On Sunday, the Cubs' shortstop was on the field working on his defense.

Castro committed his 12th error on Saturday. Infield coach David Bell, bench coach Jamie Quirk and coach Mike Borzello joined Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney on the field before batting practice.

The extra work didn't pay off immediately, as Castro committed his 13th and 14th errors of the season on a short throw to first that allowed the Astros to score a run in the Cubs' 14-6 win, as well as a dropped-throw error. Castro's 14 errors are the most in the Majors.

"There's a lot of things in his defense that need to get better," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Today was working on his backhand and trying to get more stable and have a base when you throw the ball and not be so off-balance and understand the different things you have to have in your tool box with your backhand. ... It was some things we have to get cleaned up."

This hasn't been a good year offensively for Castro, a two-time All-Star, who is now batting .228. He began the year with a .297 career average in three seasons. Sveum didn't see the 23-year-old infielder fretting too much.

"These are things everybody goes through and part of the adversity everybody goes through," Sveum said. "Some guys have peaks and valleys. You're going to go through this at some point in your career."

This is the longest skid in Castro's young career.

"People can go 25, 30, 35 years without any adversity in their life," Sveum said. "You see what kind of man you are when you have to deal with adversity. Everybody has to go through it in life. Nobody said life was easy."

Sveum ponders expanded replay after close call

HOU@CHC: Cisnero nabs Soriano with pickoff at second

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Dale Sveum isn't sure he'd like to see more instant replay in baseball. On Saturday, though, a check of the video might have overturned a crucial call at second base.

With one out in the eighth on Saturday, Alfonso Soriano doubled and one batter later was picked off at second on a close play. It appeared he got his hand on the base before the tag. Second-base umpire David Rackley didn't think so, and called Soriano out.

"It's a bad call, but I have a lot of respect for the umpires," Soriano said. "It's not an easy job."

What if there was instant replay for something like that?

"More than anything, you'd have to do something in regard to the NFL, like you have two challenges -- one in the first five innings, one in the last five, whatever it might be, and the last two minutes everything is under review," Sveum said. "You could open up so many things with replay."

Wouldn't that make the game even longer?

"If you did go to whatever format possible, you'd have to have somebody in the [press box] with some kind of microphone, who'd say, 'You got it wrong,' or 'You got it right,' whatever it is, instead of four guys going in to check it themslves. There would have to be an extra guy watching, and you'd get it done in 30 seconds."

Is Sveum in favor of more instant replay?

"I don't know," he said. "I know they're thinking about it and what avenues they can go down with that. At certain times, yeah, you could use it. For the most part, it's the game, and that's the world we live in."

Extra bases

• Cubs manager Dale Sveum has watched the Blackhawks play and is a little envious.

"I always say if I come back in a second life, it'd be as a hockey player," Sveum said. "It's such a true sport that you can't do anything but play hard the whole game. It's OK to be physical, it's OK to fight, it's OK to do all that stuff. It's just a great sport. To do that kind of sport on ice and skates with a stick in your hand, I think is the purest form of athletes there are."

On Saturday, the Blackhawks took a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 3-1 win over the Bruins.

• Catcher Steve Clevenger's Minor League rehab assignment ended Saturday, but he was experiencing some tenderness and will be reevaluated after some rest. The Cubs were expected to make a roster move prior to Tuesday's game, and Clevenger had been one of the options. He has been sidelined with a strained left oblique.

• Javier Baez, the No. 1 Cubs prospect, hit his 16th home run in the first inning Saturday off Major Leaguer Kyle Drabek, who was making his first start since elbow surgery. Baez also hit an RBI single in the third in Class A Daytona's 2-1 win over Dunedin.

"It doesn't matter who is on the mound -- he has to throw strikes," Baez told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Baez is tied for first in the Florida State League in home runs, but is the active leader, as the other two players were promoted to Double-A. He also ranks among the FSL leaders with 52 RBIs.