The learning curve for Welington Castillo

The learning curve for Welington Castillo
May 12, 2012, 7:29 pm
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MILWAUKEE Welington Castillo has a rocket arm, and his bat has shown enough pop in the minors that the Cubs think they have a potential All-Star behind the plate.

But the 25-year-old catcher still has to work on the details of his game.

Cubs television analyst Bob Brenly, a former catcher, pointed that out during Fridays broadcast, and the idea that Castillo has trouble framing pitches quickly gained traction on Twitter.

An 8-7 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers that took 13 innings and lasted more than five hours only amplified things. Cubs pitchers hit three batters and handed out 14 walks, one off the franchise mark set in 1962 during a 13-inning game in New York.

Welly will say it wasnt one of his better games receiving the ball, manager Dale Sveum said Saturday. Sometimes you do struggle with certain pitchers and you lose concentration.

But we got a grip on it. He knows what he was doing and we know what he was doing, so its not a big concern.

The Cubs specifically staff assistant Mike Borzello have been drilling this into Castillo and all their catchers since workouts at Fitch Park in spring training. The point of emphasis is making sure your thumb is up when you catch the ball (and not sticking out your elbow).

You dont want your thumb down when you catch it, Sveum said. You always take it out of the strike zone (that way).

Its like anything. If youre changing your mechanics hitting, it sometimes takes (awhile) to really (sink in). You can forget what youve been working on when you get in the batters box.

Its one of those things where we got to stay on (it) and make sure we dont revert back to our old habits.

The Cubs are still very high on Castillo, who came through their system in the Dominican Republic and worked hard to learn English. Hes played in the All-Star Futures Game and been on the prospect lists.

Castillo hit 28 homers in 130 games combined the previous two seasons at Triple-A Iowa. But his catching skills could still use a little polish. Its all part of the learning curve.

In the course of a game, Sveum said, it kind of speeds up and youre just worrying about calling the game, so you revert back to whats comfortable for you, but its not necessarily the right thing.