Results tagged ‘ Welington Castillo ’

5/13 Cubs 9, Rockies 1

Travis Wood and Hippo Vaughn now have something in common, even if they’re not very familiar with each other. Wood posted his eighth consecutive quality start and hit an RBI double, one of six by the team, while Alfonso Soriano belted a two-run homer, and Starlin Castro, Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus all drove in a pair to lift the Cubs to a 9-1 victory Monday night against the Rockies.

Wood is the first Cubs left-hander to open the season with eight quality starts since Vaughn did so in 1919. Wood admitted he had never heard of Vaughn. That’s OK. This was the 23rd quality start by a Chicago pitcher this season, and while they have a combined 1.90 ERA in those games, the team has won only nine. Wood held the Rockies to two hits and walked three over seven innings.

“That was against a lineup that crushes left-handed pitching,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the Rockies, who entered the game batting .277 against southpaw pitchers. “To throw like that against those guys, the way they hit against left-handed pitching, was very, very impressive.”

Wood struggled in spring 2012 and began last season at Triple-A Iowa. He’s a different pitcher now.

“What he’s done since Spring Training of last year is pretty impressive,” Sveum said.

On Monday, the lefty was able to pitch to both sides of the plate and had impressive command of his cutter.

“He’s doing a lot of this without secondary pitches,” Sveum said. “It’s not like he’s throwing a lot of curveballs or changeups. He’s mixing in those pitches and using them when he has to against people who are vulnerable and able to use both sides of the plate and be aggressive and not walk people and help out with his bat, too.”

Basically, Wood has learned how to pitch.

“When they sent me down after spring last year,” Wood said, “I just got some work in on what they thought I needed and what I thought I needed and I was fortunate enough to be able to get those things ironed out and so far so good. I’ve been rolling from last year.”

Wood has a scraggly beard that he isn’t going to trim any time soon.

“I’m not really sure what I’m doing with it right now,” he said of his facial hair. “It just started, and I didn’t intend to let it keep going but it’s kind of hard to cut it right now.”

“I think he’s going to keep it,” catcher Welington Castillo said.

The Cubs have talked about how Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro are part of the young core they want to build around, and have signed both to long-term deals. What about Wood?

“I would love to be here for a long time with the Cubs but that’s out of my hands,” Wood said. “I’m not really thinking about that right now at all. We’ve got to go out and win tomorrow, and I’ve got four more days to get ready for my next start and hopefully we can keep going on.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/5 Cubs lineup

The Cubs close their series against the Reds on Sunday, facing tough Mat Latos. Edwin Jackson will try for his first win with the Cubs. We’ll check on Welington Castillo. He fouled a ball off his ankle on Saturday, and gutted it out through the game. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Schierholtz RF
Navarro C
Valbuena 3B
Barney 2B
E. Jackson P

5/2 Padres 4, Cubs 2

The Cubs’ defense was stellar Thursday through seven innings but a brain cramp by catcher Welington Castillo and misplayed fly ball hurt Travis Wood. The Padres scored four runs in the eighth, including the tying run on a passed ball by Castillo, to rally for a 4-2 victory against the Cubs and Wood, who deserved better.

Jesus Guzman singled to lead off the Padres eighth, Kyle Blanks walked, and two outs later, pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso delivered a bloop RBI single that fell between Julio Borbon and Darwin Barney in shallow right field. The wind made it a tough play for Borbon, relatively new to Wrigley Field’s quirkiness.

“When I realized I could’ve caught it, I started calling [Barney] off and I don’t think he — I talked to him about it and he said he didn’t see it until the last minute and that’s why he didn’t get out of the way,” Borbon said. “I was running in hard saw him out of the corner of my eye.”

Borbon said it was a ball he should’ve caught.

“That extra second of maybe Barney recognizing it and calling me off, or me getting out of the way — I felt the speed I was going in at, I would’ve been able to catch it if I hadn’t seen him at the last second,” Borbon said. “He said if he had picked up the ball a tenth of a second earlier, he would’ve been able to call me off and I’m veering off to the side. I looked at the replay, and as I’m approaching him, he had to literally dive away to get out of the way.”

The two did avoid a collision but nobody caught the ball. Wood then exited, and Shawn Camp’s offering got away from Castillo during Chris Denorfia’s at-bat. The catcher didn’t seem aware Blanks was headed home from third as he collected the ball behind home plate. Blanks scored the tying run.

“I think [Castillo] thought [Blanks] was running and was just going to walk home and he took it for granted,” Dale Sveum said. “[Blanks] didn’t take off and ‘Welly’ took it for granted he was going to walk home and was going automatically, and obviously didn’t go after the ball.”

Blanks hesitated because he thought the ball had kicked back to Castillo off the brick wall.

“As soon as he kind of tailed after it, I just took off,” Blanks said. “I figured he’s taking his time, it’s as good a time as any to at least make an attempt. But the kick, I thought it was coming back to him, then as soon as it got away, I just took off.”

Camp walked Denorfia, and James Russell entered. Everth Cabrera greeted him with a go-ahead RBI single to take a 3-2 lead. Chase Headley followed with another RBI single that rolled just past Barney at second base.

Castillo shouldered the blame for the mental mistake.

“I want to apologize to my teammates,” Castillo said. “I feel like I lost the game. I’m the one who has to keep everybody on the game, and I just got out of the game.”

Anthony Rizzo made an amazing catch, grabbing Headley’s popup in foul territory as he dove over the rolled-up tarp. Rizzo ended up between the tarp and the brick wall, and held onto the ball. Borbon tumbled over the bullpen mound after catching Nick Hundley’s fly ball against the wall in the eighth. Shortstop Starlin Castro added to his highlight reel of great plays.

“It was a shame — we had two defensive plays that were the difference in the ballgame,” Sveum said. “It’s unfortunate. It was a really well-played game other than a pop-up that caused it. We had a chance to make a pitch and get out of all that, and couldn’t do it again. When we make a mistake, we don’t seem to be able to make a pitch to get the next guy out.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/11 Cubs 7, D-backs 5

Jeff Samardzija hit a solo home run and Welington Castillo added a two-run shot to lift the Cubs to a 7-5 victory Monday over the Diamondbacks in front of a sellout crowd of 12,436 in Scottsdale. Darwin Barney hit a two-run double in the seventh and scored on Jorge Soler’s single to break a 4-4 tie. Samardzija gave up four runs on four hits over 4 2/3 innings, and Blake Parker picked up the save. Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon gave up one hit and struck out one in two-thirds of inning. Steve Clevenger, who played the entire game at first base, had three hits.

* The Cubs have Tuesday off and return to action Wednesday when they play host to the Rockies at HoHoKam Stadium. Edwin Jackson will get Wednesday’s start and Starlin Castro was expected back in the Cubs lineup for the first time since Feb. 27. The shortstop has been sidelined with a tight hamstring.

* Scott Baker and Carlos Villanueva will both pitch at Fitch Park on Tuesday.

– Carrie Muskat

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



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