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Levine: Castro 'Close' To Being Ready In Return From Hamstring Injury

By Bruce Levine-

MESA, Ariz. (CBS) -- A vibrant mood prevailed for Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro on Monday, as he played in his first all-around competitive game since injuring his hamstring on March 2.

Playing six innings in a minor league game, Castro said he thinks he's getting close to baseball condition and believes he's on pace to be ready for Opening Day on March 31.

"I feel very good," he said. "I tried to do all the movements I could in game action and feel pretty good."

Castro will have a day off Tuesday and than proceed toward another minor league game. He will have three games left in Arizona to play in -- Thursday through Saturday -- but could stay behind for another game Sunday in minor league camp as part of the rehab process.

"I am really close," Castro said. "I don't know when I will play in a big league game, but I am really close."

Monday was the first time Castro ran the bases hard and played defense in a pro game in more than three weeks.

"I just need to play the game," Castro said when asked when he will be ready. " It is not the same intensity over there in a minor league game. When I play in a big league game, I will know where I am at."

Castro, who turned 24 on Monday, has missed only five games in the last three seasons.

Follow Bruce him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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