CHICAGO -- Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of Mike Quade's debut as Cubs manager, and it's been a wild ride.
"We've gotten through a lot of tough times, and we're going to keep working to make them better," said Quade, who took over the team on Aug. 23, 2010, for Lou Piniella, who retired. "I thought that last year when I took over, and I believe that now. I wish the record was better, wish things had developed better, but there's not a darn thing we can do about that except make them better from here on out."
Quade has had to deal with Carlos Zambrano's antics, watch as Jim Hendry was dismissed as the general manager, bench All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro, and he still remained optimistic.
"There's plenty of stuff I'm happy with, plenty of progress I'm happy with," Quade said. "I'm never satisfied, and the record's not good and we don't need to go through all that happened this year, and now you're trying to get better. That sounds simplistic, but that's how I look at it."
The Cubs entered play Tuesday 20 games back in the National League Central at 56-72, but are 13-7 in August.
"It's been a tough year," Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster said. "We had a pitcher quit, we had a GM fired and at the end of the day, it's because we didn't do our job. That's us as individuals, us as a team. We haven't been getting it done. We've been playing better lately, but it's too late. Hopefully, it teaches us to cherish every game we're out there, every play, every opportunity you get, because things change fast."
There could be a lot of changes in the Cubs' clubhouse next season, including at the top. The next GM will choose the manager and make the roster decisions.
"When I was younger, I used to worry about things like that," Dempster said. "But as you get older, the best thing you can do is be there -- be there for your teammates and play as hard as you can and do your job the best you can. Hopefully, good things will happen."
Asked if the players needed to finish strong for Quade, Dempster said they have a bigger responsibility.
"I think we have an obligation to the game of baseball to play hard," he said. "You play 162 games, and these are the times of year people are tired. You can go out there and win games on hustle and determination alone. We just have to go out there and battle hard. We've been playing good the last 18, 20 games, and we just have to keep that going."
Castro back in Cubs' lineup after lapse
CHICAGO -- Starlin Castro was back in the Cubs' lineup on Tuesday after being benched one game because of a defensive gaffe.
"We move on and see if he doesn't improve," Cubs manager Mike Quade said Tuesday.
Castro missed one game as a penalty for his lapse in Sunday night's 6-2 loss to the Cardinals. The 21-year-old shortstop was caught not paying attention when James Russell started his relief outing in the sixth inning. Castro had his back to home as Russell delivered a pitch. The shortstop said he didn't realize the inning had started.
"It doesn't take away from the progress we've seen from him, and it doesn't mean he's on Mike Quade's or anyone else's time schedule," Quade said. "You're going to push him and do all the things you can do to get him better."
The Cubs need Castro's offense. The shortstop currently leads the National League and ranks third in the Major Leagues in hits with 164. He leads the Cubs in games played (124) and at-bats (532), and has played better defensively since the All-Star break, committing three of his total 21 miscues since then.
Castro apologized to his teammates. Time will tell whether he learned a lesson.
"We need to concentrate on [the mental] part, as does he," Quade said.
Aramis: Lighten up on young Castro
CHICAGO -- Aramis Ramirez knows what it's like to be a kid in the Majors.
He was 19 years old when he made his debut for the Pirates on May 26, 1998. Starlin Castro is 21, and was caught by ESPN cameras with his back to the plate during Sunday night's Cubs-Cardinals game, which Chicago lost, 6-2. Ramirez said people need to lighten up regarding the Cubs' young All-Star.
"People need to realize that he's only 21 -- he's going to make mistakes," Ramirez said Tuesday. "He's going to make mental mistakes. ... I made it to the big leagues when I was 19, and I made a lot of mistakes. That's part of [the game]."
Castro was back in the Cubs' starting lineup Tuesday. Ramirez said Castro has apologized to the team and now it's time to move on.
"I think [such a big deal was made] because it was an ESPN game, a nationally televised game," Ramirez said. "[But] that stuff shouldn't happen. Starlin would be the first one to tell you that shouldn't happen."
He added: "Even when you're a veteran, you make mistakes."
Cubs manager Mike Quade, who still has not listened to ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine's extended criticism of Castro from Sunday's game, agreed the shortstop's mistake is getting a lot of attention.
"I may agree that too much was being made of it but this is the world we're in and this is the spotlight we're under," Quade said. "You can think what you want, but when you're playing in a market like this at a level like this, you can expect this kind of attention, and you can expect to be under a microscope like this."
Andrew Cashner struck out the first two batters he faced in his first rehab outing, pitching for Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday.
Cashner gave up two runs on three hits, including a pair of RBI singles, in two-thirds of an inning before he was lifted. He threw 23 pitches, 15 for strikes. The right-hander has been on the disabled list with a strained right rotator cuff since April 6. He has not been in a game situation since his first start of the season on April 5.
The plan is to have Cashner make three to four outings with Tennessee, then move up to Triple-A Iowa before joining the big league team in September.
The Cubs are batting .188 with runners in scoring position in August after hitting .270 with RISP in July. On Monday, they stranded 15 baserunners in a 3-0 loss to the Braves.
"I don't notice a different approach," Cubs manager Mike Quade said of the hitters with runners on and without. "We're not having the same success in those situations, obviously, but I don't see a big difference in guys' at-bats when there's nobody on or when there's people on base."
Kerry Wood has 17 strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings in nine games this month. His previous strikeout high for a month this year was nine in April.
"He's got great velocity, he can mix in a curveball to go with his cutter that's unbelievable," Quade said. "He's just locating, and as good as the cutter is, the fastball location is the difference as much as anything."
Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney ended Dan Uggla's hitting streak at 33 games when he made a running catch of a popup on Aug. 14 in Atlanta. On Monday, Uggla smacked his 30th homer, launching the ball out of Wrigley Field and onto Waveland Avenue.
"I guess that's where I've got to hit them against this team," Uggla said. "If I keep it in the park, Barney is going to catch it and get me out somewhere. You've got to hit it where they can't catch them."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. Sam Zuba is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.