By Bruce Levine--
CHICAGO (CBS) -- The trade winds blowing around Wrigley Field and Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro have calmed down in recent days. The rumor mill had pointed to Castro being linked with the Padres and Marlins in recent weeks, but movement of the 25-year-old three-time All-Star seems unlikely ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline Friday at 3 p.m. CT.
The benching of Castro for Wednesday afternoon's contest against the Rockies can be looked at in several different ways. Neither the Cubs nor Castro are happy with his extended hitting slump, as he's batting .237 after almost 400 at-bats this season. A career .279 hitter, Castro has been under more pressure with young infielders Addison Russell and Javier Baez waiting in the wings as possible replacements.
On Wednesday, manager Joe Maddon said he told Castro not to worry about the speculation swirling around him.
"He did not ask me, but (I told him), 'You're not getting traded,'" Maddon said. "'Just relax and play. Just don't worry about this stuff.'"
Castro sat down with Maddon to discuss why he had been removed twice in three games as a part of a mid-to-late-game double switch.
"I explained to him the double switch was (that) I did not want to take (Chris) Coghlan out of the game," Maddon said. "I had to move (the pitcher batting) away from the other hitters as much as possible. It just happened to be him, and of course he is not hitting to his normal levels. That is also a consideration. I will defend him. His work has been great -- he had a good game a couple of days ago. The double switch was to ensure that I had the left-handed bat available."
Castro admitted he has been upset with the team's offensive slump -- the Cubs entered Wednesday hitting .224 since the All-Star break, tied for third-worst in baseball -- and was worried about getting traded. He said he loves playing for Maddon and that the communication was excellent for him with the manager and coaching staff.
"He told me to relax and take it easy," Castro said. "He said, 'We want you here.' I am not supposed to think about rumors, but it did get in mind. I want to be here and stay here. Joe told me last night I am not getting traded."
Castro added he wasn't sure if Maddon meant he wasn't being traded at the moment or at all before the deadline.
"I am not sure," Castro said. "If Friday I am traded, I don't know."
Despite his 2015 hitting slump, Castro is still a sought-after commodity on the trade market, industry sources said. Some clubs project Castro as a third baseman in the future. The Padres are one of several clubs that have kicked the tires on a deal with the Cubs involving many names.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.
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