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Castellanos Already A Hit With Cubs: 'He's Reminding Us What Hunger Looks Like'

Freed from the losing in Detroit, he's been rejuvenated in Chicago.

August 06, 2019 - 4:22 pm

Less than a week after his trade from the Tigers to the Cubs, it sure sounds like Nicholas Castellanos is fitting in with his new team. 

Consider a few headlines out of Chicago. 

From Monday: Nick Castellanos Was Exact Shot of Energy Cubs Needed

From last Sunday: Nicholas Castellanos' attitude may be just what Cubs need

From last Thursday: Castellanos and Cubs hope he continues Wrigley Field success: ‘I couldn’t be happier where I’m at now’

The positive reviews are easily understood. In five games with the Cubs, Castellanos has gone 8-20 (.400) with three doubles and a homer. Chicago has won four of those games to widen its lead in the NL Central. 

On a team that's made the playoffs four years in a row, Castellanos' desire to get back there for the first time since 2014 stands out. 

"He's reminding us what hunger looks like," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Castellanos' hustle on the basepaths, via NBC Sports Chicago. "This guy, he's really happy to be here and play in this ballpark and he wants to get to the postseason badly. I love what he's doing. Every day, conversationally, his work — everything about him indicates 'Let's go; I want to play in October.' And I love it."

Veteran outfielder Jason Heyward, who's headed for the eighth playoff appearance of his 10-year career, echoed Maddon's sentiments. 

"He wants to win," Heyward said of Castellanos. "That stands out to me most. ...He's just a person that comes in and understands you don't have a chance to win every season. We have a chance to win a ring and he wants to make the most of that, so it's appreciated."

Castellanos said Heyward reminds him of some of the veterans he once played with in Detroit -- presumably guys like Ian Kinsler, Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez. 

Castellanos was 22 years old during the lone playoff appearance of his career -- and it lasted all of three games when the Tigers were swept by the Orioles in the ALDS. His outlook on October baseball has changed in the years since. 

“I was a bit too young to appreciate it,” Castellanos said, via the Chicago Tribune. “I was a bit too young to appreciate the talent, the people and knowledge that was in that clubhouse. And kind of goes to that saying you don’t really know what you have until it’s gone. We haven’t been to the postseason since 2014, and that baseball is unlike any other baseball.”

After coming up with a team positioned to win the World Series, Castellanos became a leader on a team in the throes of a rebuild. But the constant losing started to take its toll this season.

The opportunity to play for a winning team again has brightened his spirits. 

"It's definitely a boost of energy, that's for sure. We weren't exactly having the best year over there," he said. "And as a competitor, you take pride in winning. I don't think I love winning; I hate losing. So when our record was whatever it was, it can become a drag and you really gotta fake it.

"So to come over here where you're in the middle of it and you have fans behind you and you have a clubhouse like this and facilities like this, faking it is very easy."