Results tagged ‘ Welington Castillo ’

2/26 Extra bases

* Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ Minor League pitcher of the year in 2013, retired all eight batters he faced in Wednesday’s intrasquad game. The right-hander was a combined 13-4 at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa combined last season.

“He’s probably put himself on everybody’s radar by the way he went about his business last year,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “It doesn’t hurt anybody to come out and do well.”

Justin Ruggiano, Welington Castillo and Christian Villanueva each hit solo home runs and Junior Lake hit a RBI single in the intrasquad game, which the “home” team won, 5-3. Jorge Soler walked, stole second and scored on Ryan Kalish’s single for the tie-breaking run in the fifth.

* Mike Olt did not play third base on Wednesday but was able to get an at-bat as the designated hitter, and drew a walk in the fifth. He said his right arm is a little tender, and the soreness is not unusual.

“It’s how it is every year,” Olt said. “It hasn’t bothered my swing.”

Acquired from the Rangers last July in the Matt Garza deal, Olt is a candidate for the Cubs’ third base job. He was scheduled to be the designated hitter on Thursday in the Cubs’ Cactus League opener.

* Second baseman Darwin Barney has been working a lot with new hitting coach Bill Mueller in hopes of getting back on track after batting .208 last season.

“We’re happy with where we’re at right now and feeling comfortable,” Barney said. “We feel we have a solid game plan, so we’ll keep continuing to move forward with that. I feel good to go. I feel mechanically sound. I feel like I’m getting results off the bat that I want and hopefully I can carry that forward.”

* Welington Castillo was the designated hitter on Wednesday in the intrasquad game in an effort to give him at-bats. Castillo had arthroscopic knee surgery in mid September and was slowed a little this spring because of his groin. So far, he’s passed all the tests.

“I think everybody is assured he’s completely healed and recovered,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “Like anything, we need to make sure we’re giving him the load of work he needs to get him into the season and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Castillo showed his swing is just fine as he led off the fourth inning with a home run off lefty Tsuyoshi Wada.

* Arodys Vizcaino, who has not pitched since 2011 after needing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, threw one inning in the intrasquad game, and walked two and gave up one hit.

“I’m just hoping his health continues to not be an issue,” Renteria said. “His arm is live. [The ball] comes out of there pretty easy. It looks like he’s using his secondary pitches in live [batting practice] the way he wants to. If he wants to bury a pitch he does it, if he wants to go off the corners he can.”

* Jake Arrieta is throwing from flat ground, and continuing to make progress this spring. Arrieta, who was projected for the Cubs starting rotation, was slowed because of tightness in his right shoulder.

* Matt Szczur made a great catch in left field in the intrasquad game Wednesday, but had a bloody right wrist to show for it. He didn’t let up just because it was intrasquad.

“There’s only one way to play,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

2/15 Extra bases

* One of the pitchers the Cubs are eager to see this spring is Arodys Vizcaino, who has been slow in coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. On Saturday, Vizcaino threw his first side session, and manager Rick Renteria was impressed.

“The ball came out of his hand pretty easy,” Renteria said of Vizcaino, acquired from the Braves in July 2012 in the Paul Maholm deal. “He stayed down in the zone pretty consistently in his pen today. He looked comfortable, very fit. I think he looked as good as we would want him to look at this point.”

The Cubs don’t want to put a timetable on his return, but Vizcaino is projected for the bullpen when ready.

“Obviously, it’s been a long road back,” Renteria said of the right-hander, who pitched in the big leagues in 2011 but had a setback last season.

* The Cubs will be careful with Welington Castillo, too. So far, he’s had no problems with his right knee, which needed arthroscopic surgery and forced him to end the 2013 season early.

“We’re going to monitor the innings he’s catching, just like anybody who comes off something, especially a catcher,” Renteria said Saturday. “He’s working hard. We were out there this morning, and he was moving fine. We’re aware of it and we’ll do what we can to make sure he stays healthy.”

Castillo admitted the knee bothered him well before he had the surgery.

“There was a time when it felt a little sore but what can I do?” Castillo said. “I’m here to play and will try to do all I can to win a game. I don’t worry about it. Sometimes you have to play with pain. You’re human. You need to prepare yourself before a game and do all you can do to win the game.”

– Carrie Muskat

11/26 Cubs acquire Kottaras

Dioner Navarro posted career numbers last season as the Cubs backup catcher, but he is now a free agent and the team decided to go a different direction, and acquired George Kottaras from the Royals for a cash consideration on Tuesday. Kottaras, 30, was the Royals’ backup catcher last season after he was claimed off waivers from the Athletics in January. He started 29 games and hit .180 with four doubles, five home runs and 12 RBIs. Kottaras’ .349 on-base percentage was sixth-highest among American League catchers.

Navarro batted .300 in 89 games with the Cubs, hitting a career-high 13 home runs and driving in 23 runs, as a backup to Welington Castillo, who will be the team’s starter again in 2014.

Kottaras, a left-handed hitter, was designated for assignment by the Royals on Friday. He has batted .214 with 40 doubles, three triples, 29 home runs and 96 RBIs in 295 Major League games with the Red Sox (2008-09), Brewers (2010-12), Athletics (2012) and Royals (2013). In 2012, Kottaras tied his career mark with nine home runs between the Brewers and Athletics, including six in 27 games for the Athletics following a July 29 trade. In his final full season with Milwaukee in 2011, he hit for the cycle, Sept. 3 at Houston, becoming the third catcher to do so in the live ball era.

– Carrie Muskat

9/20 Castillo done for season

Welington Castillo has a partial meniscus tear in his right knee, which will require arthroscopic surgery. He is done for the season.

“With proper rehab, it’s the type of thing you come back 100 percent from with rehab,” Theo Epstein said Friday.

This was Castillo’s first full season as the Cubs regular catcher.

“He had a fantastic year,” Epstein said. “I think it’s a developmental success story in every facet. With catching, it starts with winning the trust with your pitchers and putting the right fingers down and he did an outstanding job. He’s really involved in game planning and game calling. I think every pitcher now loves throwing to him. He did an outstanding job defensively. His blocking has been at an elite level.”

Castillo struggled offensively at the beginning of the season but came on strong at the end.

“He made some adjustments and learned a lot about his swing and has gotten pitches that he can drive and is doing damage with them,” Epstein said. “He’s always been a super talented player and great kid, and this is one of those years he’s established himself. Unfortunately it ends this way but he had a full year.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/19 Castillo out with sore knee

Cubs catcher Welington Castillo had to leave Thursday’s game in the sixth inning because of a sore right knee, and wasn’t sure if he will be able to play in the team’s final nine games. Castillo led off the sixth inning with a ground out to Milwaukee shortstop Jeff Bianchi, and grabbed his right hamstring as he ran down the line. Castillo then slowly walked back to the dugout. The team announced he was pulled because of right knee soreness.

“I felt some sharp pain,” Castillo said. “I don’t know what happened. I was running hard and tried to beat the throw, and felt some sharp pain.”

He will be examined on Friday in Chicago.

“I want to finish the season hard,” Castillo said. “I feel my body this year is in really good shape, good health. Stuff happens, and you go and give 100 percent, and that kind of stuff can happen.”

Was he a little worried?

“Yeah, because I want to finish strong,” Castillo said. “The doctor will decide what to do [Friday].”

– Carrie Muskat

9/17 Brewers 4, Cubs 3

Jeff Samardzija reached 200 innings and 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career and also notched his first recorded dugout argument with coach David Bell.

Carlos Gomez smacked a tying two-run homer in the seventh, and pinch-runner Jeff Bianchi scored on a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Logan Schafer in the ninth to lift the Brewers to a 4-3 victory Tuesday night over the Cubs at Miller Park.

It got interesting in the Brewers’ sixth. Milwaukee led 1-0 when Norichika Aoki tripled down the right field line. Samardzija escaped any damage as Jean Segura popped up and Jonathan Lucroy hit into a fielder’s choice with Aoki getting caught in a rundown. Lucroy tried to reach second on the play, but was thrown out. After the inning ended, Samardzija and Bell got into a heated discussion in the dugout. It’s the second argument in as many days for the Cubs. On Monday, Edwin Jackson and manager Dale Sveum had an animated shouting match in the dugout when the pitcher was pulled.

The problem between Samardzija and Bell was that the pitcher wasn’t happy with where first baseman Anthony Rizzo was positioned against Aoki. That’s Bell’s job.

“They were just screaming a little bit about our strategy,” Sveum said.

But in back to back games?

“Sometimes that happens,” Sveum said. “We’ve obviously been fortunate to not have anything like that happen. Unfortunately, it’s back to back nights. Tonight, that was really nothing.”

“We were just talking strategy,” Samardzija said of the disagreement.

“Some of the best teams I’ve ever been on, and the best players I’ve been around, this stuff happens quite often, unfortunately,” Bell said. “It’s not something you want to have happen but in the heat of the moment when you’re competing, like I said he does, and we all do, I think things like this are going to happen. The best teams and best players, it seems to happen more. It’s not a big deal.”

How much of a competitor is Samardzija? Before anyone could ask him a question, Bell said, “I love everything about this guy, the way he competes and the way he cares and the way he goes about everything and his intensity. It’s going to make him a great pitcher for a long time. I absolutely love the guy.”

Samardzija has seen plenty of brouhahas during his Cubs career involving Carlos Zambrano and former manager Mike Quade. On a scale of what he’s witnessed in the past, the right-hander graded Tuesday’s incident a “one.”

“There are a lot of cameras out there, that’s the way it is,” Samardzija said. “It’s just competitive dudes, man, playing to win a game. It’s good to see. People care. Our record isn’t where we want it to be right now and nobody’s happy about it. We’re out here scraping and clawing and doing everything we can to win a ballgame.

“‘Belly’ is the epitome of that, of doing whatever he can to win a ballgame,” Samardzija said of the third base coach. “He cares, everyone on this team cares. Nobody is happy where we’re at as a team and we just want to win every game we can. We’ve had some pretty good characters here on these teams that would overshadow this.”

Welington Castillo gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the seventh with a two-run homer. But Samardzija walked Aramis Ramirez to open the Brewers’ seventh, and Gomez followed with his 20th home run off a hanging slider to tie the game.

“Besides one pitch, he was really good,” Sveum said of Samardzija. “He used his fastball, pitched inside, did really well pitching inside and had his fastball working really well.”

In the Milwaukee ninth, Justin Grimm walked Ramirez, who was lifted for Bianchi, and he moved up on Gomez’s single. Scooter Gennett then bunted, but he was safe on an error by Grimm, who could not field the ball cleanly and whose throw pulled Rizzo off the bag. With the bases loaded, Caleb Gindl popped up to shortstop Starlin Castro, and Schafer bunted to Grimm, with Bianchi scoring.

“Leadoff walks never help,” Grimm said. “I threw some close pitches on the outside and they were a little out. Then the base hit, and then I don’t field my position and didn’t give myself any help at all. Bases loaded, and the guy got the bunt down. Maybe I should’ve gone fastball, I don’t know. I thought it was a good pitch [to Schafer],” Grimm said. “I was trying to get the guy out. It didn’t work out in my favor. I made it really tough on myself.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/16 Gold Glove nuggets

Gold Glove ballots will be distributed this week. Here’s a look at recent or season-long defensive accomplishments by qualifying Cubs defenders:

* Welington Castillo leads all Major League catchers with a 2.5 defensive WAR (2.5) this season.

* Anthony Rizzo leads all ML first basemen in defensive WAR (0.6) and leads all National League first basemen with an .900 ultimate zone rating. Rizzo ranks second in the league with a .996 fielding percentage this season.

* Darwin Barney leads all National League second basemen in defensive WAR (1.4), and has made only four errors this season, by far the fewest by any everyday second baseman. Barney’s .993 fielding percentage is far and away the best in the National League. He began this season with a 71-game errorless streak and takes an active 41-game errorless streak into tonight’s game.

* Starlin Castro has made four errors in his last 72 games starting June 26. He has an .882 ultimate zone rating during that span, second-best among NL shortstops, and a .988 fielding percentage, also second-best among league shortstops in that span.

9/15 Pirates 3, Cubs 2

Francisco Liriano held the Cubs without a hit through six innings and Justin Morneau delivered a game-winning pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth to lift the Pirates to a 3-2 victory Sunday in front of 36,559 at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh remained tied for first with St. Louis in the NL Central heading into the final two weeks of regular season play. All four games between the Cubs and Pirates were decided by two runs or less, and the last three games were one-run decisions. Chicago now is 20-31 in one-run games.

Welington Castillo made it close Sunday when he smacked a two-run home run in the seventh off Liriano to tie the game at 2. But with one out in the Pirates eighth, Pedro Strop plunked Andrew McCutchen with a pitch, and he moved up on Marlon Byrd’s bloop single to center. McCutchen then tallied on Morneau’s single to left.

Liriano was tough. He threw 99 pitches through six innings, and Junior Lake connected on No. 100, recording an infield single to lead off the seventh for the first hit off the lefty. Castillo then launched pitch No. 102 into the left field seats for his seventh home run to tie the game. Darnell McDonald singled, and Liriano was lifted. It’s the first time in 24 starts that he did not get a decision.

“He’s not easy to hit,” Castillo said of Liriano. “He’s got good offspeed, and he throws it for strikes. He’s a guy you have to be aggressive against all the time because he can throw 96 and 88 [mph] and has a slider at 85, 87 [mph]. What makes him good is [all the pitches] look the same. His changeup looks like his fastball, his slider looks like his fastball. He’s been good his whole career. The approach we had to take was be aggressive and try to get him early.”

Wood took an aggressive approach, too, against the Pirates, who rank among the NL leaders in batting average against left-handed pitchers.

“They came out hacking,” Wood said. “They had a game plan and fortunately I was able to get out of [the first] giving up just one.”

Sticking to the Cubs’ coaches plan has been key for Wood this season, his first in which he’s been on a big league roster from Opening Day until the finish.

“For me, it goes back to last year when they wanted me to work both sides of the plate, arm side and glove side, and I really focused on arm side because I was predominantly glove side,” Wood said. “For me to take that into this year and make sure I can command both sides of the plate and prepare as best as I can, side sessions and everything, it’s been outstanding.”

It wasn’t hard for the Cubs staff to convince Wood to make the changes because he threw predominantly to one side of the plate.

“I knew at some point it was going to catch up to me,” Wood said.

Said Castillo: “That lineup is not easy to get through. They were jumping on him early. We had to make adjustments, and he did it.”

The Cubs head to Milwaukee with a 15-31 record since July 29. While the Pirates are prepping for the postseason, playing “We Are Family” at PNC Park, it’s wait until next year for Chicago.

“We’ve definitely made strides,” Wood said, complimenting Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer for getting players who want to be on the team. “I’m excited to finish out the season and see how we battle back next year being together for a full year.”

It may be tough for Cubs fans to accept that. Wood sees positives.

“We’ve strung together some good games,” Wood said. “I think we’ve had a season where we’ve made strides and we can hold our heads high.”

– Carrie Muskat

Tuesday’s game: Cubs 9, Reds 1

Welington Castillo hit two home runs to back Edwin Jackson, who gave up one run over seven innings, in the Cubs’ 9-1 victory Tuesday night over the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Jackson also helped himself by hitting a solo home run. Cubs pitchers now have combined for six home runs and 28 RBIs, most in the Major Leagues. Coincidentally, Castillo now has six home runs and 28 RBIs. This was the third start this season that Jackson did not walk a batter.

9/1 Cubs 7, Phillies 1

Welington Castillo smacked a two-run double and Anthony Rizzo added a RBI double to back Jake Arrieta and lead the Cubs to a 7-1 victory over the Phillies and take the series at Wrigley Field. After a dismal 8-20 August, the Cubs were happy to turn the calendar. They have now won back to back games at home for the first time since winning three straight, July 6-9. Arrieta gave up three hits over 6 2/3 innings in his fifth start for Chicago.

The Cubs added three players Sunday when Major League rosters could expand, including Ryan Sweeney and Luis Valbuena, who were activated from the disabled list. Sweeney delivered in his first-bat, hitting a RBI single with two outs in the first off Kyle Kendrick, who needed 31 pitches to get through the inning. Anthony Rizzo hit a RBI double in the third, his 34th. and Castillo connected in the fourth.

James Russell pitched in relief, his 70th appearance this year. He’s the fifth Cubs lefty to record multiple 70-game seasons for the Cubs.

The Cubs won their first home series since July 5-7.

– Carrie Muskat

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