6/28 Extra bases
* Since his one-day “breather,” Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is 4-for-10, which is encouraging. Has manager Dale Sveum seen changes since Tuesday’s day off, Castro’s first of the year?
“Maybe a little attitude change,” Sveum said Friday. “I think the mechanics of his swing are probably the same. He’s mixed in some hits which are nice. That’s usually what gets you going sometimes.
“He’s still struggling a little bit with the fastball,” Sveum said of Castro, who was batting .234 overall. “The mechanics are the same. Hopefully, he keeps gradually understanding what he has to do.”
* Alfonso Soriano was the designated hitter for Friday’s Interleague game, and will likely handle that role in the Cubs’ six-game West Coast swing against the Mariners and Athletics. That means Ryan Sweeney and Brian Bogusevic will be getting the action in the outfield for the Cubs. The Cubs will have to figure out how to get everyone at-bats when David DeJesus returns from a sprained right shoulder. DeJesus was in Chicago, continuing his rehab.
“A couple of them might be part of our future, left-hand hitters who are better athletes, two-way players,” manager Dale Sveum said of Sweeney and Bogusevic. “We’ll work it out to figure out the playing time.”
Sveum will talk to Soriano about playing time if there’s a significant change for the 37-year-old outfielder.
“You’re not going to just do something like that to a guy who’s had that kind of career,” Sveum said. “I’ll have to figure out how to get these guys their at-bats with matchups, or whoever’s the hottest. A lot of times those things work themselves out.”
* Dioner Navarro has caught Matt Garza’s last three starts, and the right-hander has given up two earned runs in those games, but Navarro isn’t the pitcher’s personal catcher.
“It’s just how it all works out sometimes,” Sveum said Friday. “[Welington Castillo] has caught them all and everybody has had really good games. If you have that kind of fastball command — [on Thursday], Garza had his slider and his command. When you have that kind of outing, it doesn’t matter what’s going on behind the plate.”
Castillo is the Cubs’ regular catcher, and has started 57 games compared to Navarro’s 21.
* Scott Baker, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery one year ago, will throw his second simulated game on Saturday in Mesa, Ariz. His first outing was 20 pitches, and went well.
“Everything went good and the velocity was up there,” Sveum said of Baker. “We hope he keeps going in the right direction.”
The right-hander could be pitching for the Cubs by late August.
“He’s basically starting his Spring Training right now,” Sveum said. “The first day pitchers throw live, it’s basically like that [for Baker].”
* Steve Clevenger, sidelined since April 14 with a left oblique strain, was activated from the 60-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Iowa. To make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Zach Putnam (bone spur) was transferred to the 60-day DL.
– Carrie Muskat