9/17 Extra bases
* The Cubs have a lot of decisions regarding next season’s roster but Welington Castillo has given the team a lot to think about regarding their catching situation.
“He’s definitely made probably the biggest progress of anybody on the team right now,” Dale Sveum said Monday of Castillo, who has started 34 games behind the plate. “The changes he’s made in his defense and calling the game and the preparation [are impressive] His whole attitude has changed into an everyday catcher’s mindset.
“I think he’s starting to have a lot more fun and understanding the progression he’s had to go through,” Sveum said. “I think going into Spring Training, he’ll feel like he’s the every day catcher, no matter what we do. He’ll have that mentality that he’ll catch 120 games next year.”
* Bryan LaHair has gone from All-Star to an extra player on the Cubs bench. LaHair, who was the starting first baseman until Anthony Rizzo arrived, totaled 231 at-bats in 74 games before the All-Star break and was voted to the National League All-Star team by his peers. But in the second half, he’s played in 41 games and has 90 at-bats. He batted .286 with 14 home runs before the break, and was hitting .189 with one home run since.
“For his sake, I think he needs to play winter ball again and get the at-bats he’s missed out on and be ready for Spring Training like he was this year,” Sveum said of LaHair.
However, both Rizzo and right fielder David DeJesus are expected back in 2013. It’ll be tough for LaHair to get at-bats.
“That goes unsaid,” Sveum said.
* One player who has opened some eyes is Dave Sappelt, acquired from the Reds in the Sean Marshall deal. Sappelt could fill the role of right-handed bat off the bench, which Reed Johnson had this year until he was dealt to the Braves.
“There’s a bat there that can play in the big leagues,” Sveum said of Sappelt, who batted .266 in 133 games with Triple-A Iowa this year. “He’s got the ability and the bat speed and the bat ability to play in the big leagues.”
Sappelt was batting .310 in 11 games since he was promoted Sept. 1.
* Pitching matchups vs. the Reds:
Tuesday: RHP Justin Germano (2-7, 6.24) vs. RHP Homer Bailey (11-9, 3.93)
Wednesday: LHP Chris Rusin (1-2, 5.06) vs. RHP Mike Leake (8-9, 4.69)
Thursday: RHP Jason Berken (0-1, 7.20) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (17-9, 2.92)
— Carrie Muskat