Results tagged ‘ Welington Castillo ’

11/16 Cubs officially add Navarro

The Cubs officially announced the signing of free agent catcher Dioner Navarro on Friday. He agreed to a one-year, $1.75 million contract that could pay him an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses. Navarro, 28, has played for the Yankees, Dodgers, Rays and Reds, batting .290 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 24 games last season with Cincinnati. He split the year between the Reds and their Triple-A Louisville team. The addition of Navarro gives the Cubs some experience at catcher behind Welington Castillo, who got his most extensive playing time last season, batting .265 in 52 games. Castillo is projected as the Cubs regular catcher next season.

A switch-hitter, Navarro batted .327 against right-handed pitching last season, and has averaged one extra-base hit per 11.3 at-bats against left-handed pitchers. He was a 2008 American League All-Star with the Rays — and also a teammate of Cubs pitcher Matt Garza in Tampa Bay. In ’08, he batted .295 and was the youngest starting catcher on an American League pennant winner since the Orioles’ Andy Etchebarren (23) in 1966. Navarro has thrown out 25.7 percent of baserunners looking to steal in his career (112-for-435), the 11th-best percentage of any catcher in the big leagues starting in 2004.

– Carrie Muskat

11/15 Cubs sign Navarro

The Cubs have apparently found a veteran backup catcher, signing Dioner Navarro to a contract on Thursday. Terms were not immediately known. Navarro has played for the Yankees, Dodgers, Rays and Reds, batting .290 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 24 games last season with Cincinnati. He has a career .245 average. A switch hitter, Navarro has a career .256 average against left-handed pitchers and .241 average against right-handers. The addition of Navarro, 28, would give the Cubs more depth at catcher behind Welington Castillo, who got his most extensive playing time last season, batting .265 in 52 games. Castillo is projected as the Cubs regular catcher next season. MDR Sports Management announced the signing. The Cubs were expected to issue a release with details later Thursday.

– Carrie Muskat

10/1 Award winners

Sure, there are the big awards, like Cy Young and MVP. Dale Sveum was asked which players were the biggest surprises of the season. He picked Shawn Camp and Luis Valbuena. Camp was released by the Mariners in March, and signed a Minor League contract. The right-hander has appeared in a career-high 78 games for the Cubs. Valbuena was claimed off waivers on April 4, spent most of the season at Triple-A Iowa, and will finish with more starts at third base than Ian Stewart, who had been projected as the Cubs’ every day third baseman.

“Some of these key pickups right at the end of Spring Training have kept us afloat,” Sveum said of Valbuena and Camp. “Those kind of guys have helped us out tremendously or this would have been an even tougher season.”

But Sveum’s biggest surprise was veteran Alfonso Soriano, who has set a career-high in RBIs.

“Soriano has been the biggest every single day, all season long surprise, defensively and offensively,” Sveum said. “The person he is, the work ethic and everything has been awesome for a new manager to come in and see what he brings to the table.”

* Who is most improved? Sveum picked catcher Welington Castillo. He has taken over most of the catching duties since Geovany Soto was dealt to the Rangers at the Trade Deadline. In Spring Training, Castillo was like “a deer in the headlights,” Sveum said.

“What he’s done in the last six months has been the most impressive of anybody and he’s the most improved guy I’ve seen this season,” Sveum said.

Castillo, 25, has worked with pitching coach Chris Bosio and coach Mike Borzello on each day’s game plan, and is counted on to handle the pitch calling. Sveum said the transformation is a combination of more playing time, Soto’s departure, and the realization that Castillo has a chance to be an everyday big league catcher.

“It’s not that ‘yes’ man anymore,” Sveum said of the young catcher. “He’ll actually have input on situations. There are definitely guys who are starting to step up and going into Spring Training, it’ll be a very different atmosphere than going into it this past spring.”

Castillo took it as a challenge.

“I want to be a leader one day, and why not start now?” Castillo said. “They’re giving me an opportunity to be an everyday catcher and I think I have to take advantage of that and start doing that now. I feel really good and appreciate the confidence they have in me.”

– Carrie Muskat

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

9/16 Chapman makes most of outing

The pitching hero of the day Sunday was rookie Jaye Chapman. The Cubs had taken a 10-9 lead after Anthony Rizzo’s grand slam in the sixth. Starling Marte tripled to lead off the Pirates seventh but Neal Walker lined out to Darwin Barney, and Chapman got Andrew McCutchen to strike out looking at a 93 mph fastball. Garrett Jones walked, and then took off for second. Chapman was about to throw, but saw Marte break for home and threw to catcher Welington Castillo, who tagged the Pirates’ speedster.

“I’m not even sure Garrett Jones knew he got picked off,” Chapman said. “I looked at him, and his head was down. I looked at second base, and a thought ran through my head, ‘Hey, that guy’s going to score,’ and I turned around and sure enough, Marte had taken off. I was like, ‘Just make the throw and let’s get out of here.'”

“He showed me a lot today, that’s for sure,” Dale Sveum said of Chapman, acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm deal.

It was pretty gutsy to throw a fastball to McCutchen.

“I faced him [Friday] and threw him all breaking stuff, and I threw him all breaking stuff today,” Chapman said. “We got to 3-2, and he just swung over a slider, and I was thinking, ‘I don’t know for sure, but I haven’t thrown him a fastball and he hasn’t seen one from me. Let’s see what happens.’ Fortunately for me, he took it.”

Told that Sveum was impressed, Chapman smiled.

“You have to make that inning count,” he said. “I’m grateful just to be here, in all honesty.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/6 Cubs vs. Nationals

The Cubs will be happy to leave Washington D.C. after Thursday’s series finale against the Nationals. This has not been fun. The Cubs have been out-hit, 61-40, out-scored 34-16, out-homered, 16-2, and outplayed in the six games so far. On Wednesday, the Nats hit six home runs for the second straight night, and, according to Elias Sports Bureau, became the third team in Major League history to do so.

“That’s just men playing against boys right now,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

Sveum didn’t get to watch the end of Wednesday’s game from the dugout. With one out and a 1-0 count to Michael Morse in the Nationals’ fifth, Sveum was ejected by home plate umpire Larry Vanover.

“I just didn’t appreciate him eyeballing our dugout for absolutely no reason at all,” Sveum said. “I just don’t think that’s right when you’re looking in our dugout for no apparent reason at all.”

Welington Castillo had complained about a called third strike in the Cubs fifth, which may have prompted Vanover to keep an eye on the dugout.

The Cubs are batting .207 against the Nationals so far, and Justin Germano takes the mound Thursday. It’s been tough for the young players.

“Hopefully, they have the thick skin to handle what they are going through,” Sveum said. “It’s not that fun to be at this level and struggle that badly. So you tell them don’t worry about your numbers — I want to see improvements and adjustments and see what can happen then.”

The Cubs need to go 12-14 to avoid a 100-loss season.

– Carrie Muskat


7/31 Roster moves

Expect catcher Welington Castillo, infielder Adrian Cardenas and pitcher Casey Coleman to join the Cubs Tuesday night in Chicago. With the loss of Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and Geovany Soto, the Cubs need a backup catcher, another starter and a utility player. Castillo was batting .260 in 44 games with six home runs, six doubles and 22 RBIs for Iowa. Coleman was 2-4 with a 5.01 ERA in 11 games (nine starts) for Iowa. Cardenas was batting .322 in 56 games with Iowa, hitting two home runs, 20 doubles, and four triples. All three have had brief callups with the Cubs.

Steve Clevenger was expected to take over as the Cubs regular catcher.

“I’ll just prepare myself every day like I’ve been doing,” Clevenger said. “I’m not taking anything for granted. I’ll go out and play the game hard like I was playing before. Other than that, just try to win.”

– Carrie Muskat

6/18 Soto activated

Geovany Soto was activated from the 15-day disabled list Monday and Welington Castillo optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Soto has been sidelined since mid May after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

“I had a good week down there and was in plenty of games,” said Soto, who was 3-for-16 (.188) in five games with two doubles.

Soto was batting .161 when he was sidelined with the knee injury, which he felt May 16.

“I had a lot of at-bats [in Iowa] and tried to find myself and I think we’re on the right track,” Soto said.

The Cubs had talked about keeping three catchers, but decided Castillo needs regular at-bats to develop. Steve Clevenger is the backup catcher, although he started at first base on Monday.

– Carrie Muskat

6/17 Soto to be activated

Geovany Soto was hitless in four at-bats on Sunday with Triple-A Iowa, but the Cubs catcher most likely will be activated Monday from the disabled list. Soto, who has not played since May 17 after undersgoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus, went 3-for-16 in five rehab games in the Minor Leagues. Dale Sveum said Sunday they may carry three catchers, keeping Soto, Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo when Soto is activated.

“It’s still to be determined but it’s a possibility for a little bit that we might do that (carry three) because Clevenger is so versatile,” Sveum said of the left-handed hitter, who can play first base if needed.

– Carrie Muskat

6/5 Cubs may keep 3 catchers

Geovany Soto was making progress in his rehab at Triple-A Iowa, and could join the Cubs as early as Monday. Dale Sveum said they have talked about keeping three catchers on the roster in Soto, Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo.

“Clevenger can play different positions on the field, and you’re not worried about pinch-hitting,” Sveum said. “It opens things up a little bit.”

Clevenger, who started Friday, was batting .281, while Castillo, who was activated from the disabled list Thursday, was hitting .185. Castillo will start Saturday.

“We’ll see what happens the next day,” Sveum said.

In four rehab games with Iowa, Soto was 3-for-12 with two doubles. He’s been out since May 17 after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

– Carrie Muskat


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