The expectations for the Chicago Cubs this season weren’t high. Fighting for a .500 record was seen as an optimistic goal and only the most idealistic bleacher bum expected more.

What was counted upon was progress. Progress from Anthony Rizzo. Progress from Jeff Samardzija. And, perhaps most importantly, progress from the Cubs young shortstop, Starlin Castro.

The Cubs obviously believe Castro is a big part of their future, as evidenced by the seven-year, $60-million contract extension they gave him last August. Unfortunately for them, a little over two months into the 2013 season, it appears that Castro has taken a step back in his development. At the moment, Castro is mired in the worst slump of his career. In his last 78 plate appearances, Castro has delivered a slash line of .153/.218/.194 and at times looks lost at the plate.

On Tuesday, manager Dale Sveum moved Castro out of his traditional two-spot in the lineup all the way down to the seven-hole. Sveum said he’s getting to the point where a day off for Castro may be necessary.

“These are things that happen over the course of careers,” Sveum said. “The adversity that people go through, how do you deal with the adversity in these times of slumps when you’ve never had to do it before.”

Castro combined to hit .304 in 2010 and 2011, his first two seasons in the big leagues, and led the league with 204 hits in 2011. However, the Cubs believed there was some untapped potential in Castro’s offense. With a low walk rate (5.7 percent and 4.9 percent in his first two seasons, respectively) to go along with limited power, the Cubs attempted to slightly alter Castro’s approach at the plate midway through the 2012 season.

With new hitting coach James Rowson aboard, Castro started to walk more in the second half of 2012 and ended the season with 14 home runs, one more than he hit in the previous two seasons combined. Unfortunately, his batting average dropped to a career low .283, but it was seen as merely a speed bump along the way to becoming a more complete offensive force.

Sveum believes that Castro is listening to the advice that he, Rowson and the rest of the staff are providing, but sometimes it’s just a little difficult to apply the knowledge.

Sveum added that he’s not sure if there are any mental issues that Castro is dealing with, but he was adamant that there are some mechanical tweaks that could bring Castro back to the success he encountered in his first couple seasons in the big leagues.