LOS ANGELES -- Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine this week, but he wasn't exactly sure what it meant.

Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita called Castro with the news early Tuesday and someone showed him the photograph.

"[Fleita] told me this magazine is nice," Castro said Tuesday.

The youngest player in the Major Leagues at 21, Castro collected 40 hits in the first month, tying the Major League record for most April hits by a player 21 or younger. Alex Rodriguez had 40 hits in April 1997.

"He's fun to play next to," Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said of Castro. "He's so athletic that you can do a lot of things. We both think we have range and we love playing together.

"Seeing him on the cover is pretty awesome. It's really cool and I'm happy for him. The guy's worked really hard and his growth is unbelievable. When I think about where I was at 21, I was still questioning myself and trying to learn what kind of player I was. It's probably not the last time he'll be on the cover of some magazine."

However, there is the matter of the Sports Illustrated jinx.

"How many do you have to deal with?" Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "You have the sophomore [jinx], the S.I. [jinx]. If there's two jinxes, do they cancel each other out?

"I know he's well aware of the notoriety of being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He still understands that doesn't make him king of all shortstops. He still has work to do to get better."

Extra bases

Cubs infielder Jeff Baker was available to pinch-hit on Tuesday and could start Wednesday in the series finale against the Dodgers. He's been sidelined with a sore left shoulder.

"He's a tough kid and he wanted to pinch-hit [Monday]," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "That's what you want to hear."

• James Russell will be back in the Cubs' bullpen starting Friday. Russell, who made four starts filling in for Andrew Cashner, still could make another, but the team doesn't need a fifth starter until May 14.

"We're going to give him the rest he needs off the pitches he made [Monday] and we'll put him back in the bullpen as if he never started," Quade said. "Does that mean he won't start again? No, it doesn't."

The Cubs are considering veteran Doug Davis, who signed a Minor League contract and was to make his first start Thursday with Class A Daytona. Another option is right-hander Todd Wellemeyer, who was to start Thursday for Triple-A Iowa.

• Jeff Samardzija has thrown a season-high 13 consecutive scoreless innings, dating to the fifth inning on April 12. He has eight straight scoreless games to lower his season ERA from 7.50 to 2.45.