Chicago Cubs

Cubs catchers will keep pushing Geovany Soto

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Cubs catchers will keep pushing Geovany Soto

PHILADELPHIA Dale Sveum predicted that Welington Castillo will play in All-Star games and make a lot of money in this game.

That was supposed to soften the news that Castillo didnt make the team out of spring training. The Cubs felt like the catcher needed to play every day at Triple-A Iowa to accelerate his development.

But would you rather spend your summer in Des Moines or Chicago?

The Cubs can take a long-range view behind the plate. But they needed a short-term fix on Saturday, when they placed Steve Clevenger on the disabled list with a right oblique strain.

So Castillo who could be the catcher of the future arrived at Citizens Bank Park and found himself in the lineup when Geovany Soto was scratched with upper back tightness.

Castillo, who just turned 25, was hitting .320 with a .955 OPS at Iowa and has a rocket arm that can shut down the running game. The 26-year-old Clevenger has impressed the team with his left-handed bat (11-for-22) and ability to handle the pitching staff.

Soto is making 4.3 million this season and will be arbitration-eligible for the final time in 2013. The 29-year-old is playing for a front office thats trying to go young and obtain years of club control.

Do you feel like youre being pushed?

Yeah, absolutely, in a positive way, Soto said. You always (think) the better they get, the better you get. (Ive seen) them since they were in A-ball. Its rewarding to see that theyre doing great.

Its kind of humbling whenever you see those guys come up and be right next to you.

Soto said the back issue is nothing major and indicated that hed be available off the bench. Hes batting .135 with one RBI, though his job is safe for now.

Its too early to worry about production and pushing anybody or anything like that, Sveum said. Geos (still) catching well, so hes doing a lot of other things behind the scenes besides swinging the bat.

His at-bats have been fine. Theres not a lot of results, obviously. (But) sometimes we forget about things like walking and getting to the pitcher and doing things out of the eight spot.

Soto is bilingual and popular within the clubhouse, though he sometimes has trouble staying healthy. He hit .228 with 17 homers and 54 RBI in 125 games last season. He believes hell turn it around.

Its not going to help me to mope around or be down about myself, Soto said. Right now, all we want is to play good baseball and win ballgames, try to build some character for this team.

I know what I can do and right now its early, 50 at-bats into the season. You cant be panicking at this point. Its just putting good at-bats together and (well) see what happens.

Sveum likes to say the media guide doesnt lie, but its hard to project Soto from one year to the next.

The manager acknowledged it has been difficult for Soto to live up to the big expectations created by that Rookie of the Year campaign in 2008 (.285 average with 23 homers and 86 RBI).

Its been inconsistent, but still the home runs are there, the on-base percentage has still been there, Sveum said. Sometimes when a guy has a rookie season like he did, we kind of (scale it) too much.

Understand that the league knows how to pitch him better than they did then and all those kind of things. As long as were getting quality at-bats and catching well and handling the pitching staff, thats still what you want out of your catcher.

The Cubs could have two low-cost options fitting that description already in-house.

Clevenger felt something during batting practice on Friday and was scheduled to fly back to Chicago for treatment. The sense is that it could take weeks not just a 15-day DL stint to recover from an oblique injury, though theres no timetable yet.

I definitely believe I belong up here, Clevenger said. Im kind of disappointed, but at the same time, Ill be back and Ill be ready to go.

Sprinting toward October, Cubs close in on another division title

Sprinting toward October, Cubs close in on another division title

MILWAUKEE – “Yeah, that really killed us, that sweep at Wrigley,” John Lackey said sarcastically late Friday night, dismissing a question about what’s happened to the Cubs since the Milwaukee Brewers made their statement against the defending World Series champs two weekends ago. “Come on, dude, it’s 162 games. Things happen.”

The Cubs are 9-1 since then, but Lackey was in no mood to talk about this finishing kick in the National League Central race, probably because manager Joe Maddon gave him the quick hook in a Big Boy Game, pulling him with a runner on and no outs in the fifth inning. But that’s what’s happening here, the Cubs sprinting away from the Brewers and peaking at the right time.

The Brewers are gasping for air after these pulsating back-to-back nights at Miller Park, the Cubs again coming from behind to win in 10 innings and close in on their second straight division title and third playoff appearance in a row, something this franchise hasn’t done since the run capped by the 1908 World Series title repeat.

After a hard-earned 5-4 win, the Cubs knocked the Brewers back to third place and chopped the magic number to eliminate the St. Louis Cardinals down to five, meaning the clinch party could be in Busch Stadium’s visiting clubhouse next week.

“We played fine that series, actually,” Lackey said, referencing three games where the Cubs lost 2-0, 15-2 and 3-1, allowing the Brewers and Cardinals within two games of first place. “S---, you can lose in this league and still play good. That’s why it’s the big leagues.”

Actually, it looks like the Cubs responded to the challenge from an upstart team, the crowd of 40,116 and a playoff environment.

“It’s been amazing,” Carl Edwards Jr. said. “It actually felt like last year’s World Series when I came in the 10th inning.”

Edwards notched the last five outs this time – with All-Star closer Wade Davis unavailable because he did the same thing the night before – part of a group effort that included a guy whose right elbow hadn’t allowed him to pitch since Sept. 8 (Hector Rondon) and a lefty swingman who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning three days ago against the Tampa Bay Rays (Mike Montgomery).

Lackey’s response when asked about the bullpen’s performance – three runs allowed in 11 innings – halfway through a four-game showdown: “They’ve been asked to do a lot…and they’ve really stepped up and done a great job.”

“In order to win, you’re going to need contributions from non-All-Star players at times,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “You’re going to have to get contributions from players stepping up because of someone else’s bad performance or someone else’s injury.

“You want your best players to play best in these situations. But ultimately that won’t always happen. And when that doesn’t happen, you’re going to need some contributions from other guys.”

That’s been crucial for the 2017 Cubs. The game-winning run scored when Tommy La Stella – the pinch-hitter who had been dealing with a groin injury recently and personal issues that led him to walk away from the organization last summer – drew a bases-loaded walk against All-Star closer Corey Knebel.

If you want to see a grinding approach for October, just look at Jon Jay’s 15-pitch at-bat against Milwaukee starter Brandon Woodruff in the fifth inning, which led to a leadoff single, Ben Zobrist’s two-run single up the middle and a 4-3 lead after Lackey’s slow start.

Yeah, the Cubs look locked in now.

“I’m so proud of the way our guys (respond),” Maddon said. “They get hit a little bit, maybe something to the solar plexus, but we still keep going.”

High School Lites Week 5 Football Roundup

High School Lites Week 5 Football Roundup

High School Lites featured plenty of great action on Friday night as CSN had highlights of many of the area's top matchups. No. 1 Lincoln-Way East hits the road to face Lincoln-Way Central while No. 2 Prairie Ridge hosts Bartlett during homecoming week. Staying in the Fox Valley, we also have highlights of a battle between top-25 teams as No. 17 Cary-Grove travels to No. 20 Huntley. 

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @CSNPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights.

Also be sure to read a preview of Saturday's big Week 5 matchups as Edgy Tim breaks down Notre Dame battling St. Patrick and West Aurora traveling to South Elgin.


DRIVE: Prairie Ridge: Episode 6

Viewers' Choice Game of the Week: Marmion uses late touchdown to upset No. 24 Montini

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Homewood-Flossmoor's Justin Hall

St. Xavier Team of the Week: Eisenhower Cardinals

Faith in Football: Old school film stories

Friday's Top 25 Scores

No. 1 Lincoln-Way East 28, Lincoln-Way Central 14

No. 2 Prairie Ridge 63, Bartlett 7

No. 3 Maine South 56, Evanston 14

No. 4 Marist 63, Marian Catholic 6

No. 5 Lake Zurich 41, Warren 35, 2 OT

No. 6 Phillips 68, Vocational 0

No. 7 Homewood-Flossmoor 28, Lincoln-Way West 9

No. 8 Naperville Central 31, Wheaton-Warrenville South 17

No. 9 Lyons 31, Leyden 0

No. 11 Barrington 26, Fremd 14

No. 12 Stevenson 41, Zion-Benton 7

No. 13 Hinsdale Central 31, York 7

No. 14 Hoffman Estates 20, Conant 0

St. Rita 38, No. 15 Mount Carmel 21

No. 16 Nazareth 24, Benet 14

No. 20 Huntley 41, No. 17 Cary-Grove 32

No. 18 Palatine 28, Schaumburg 21

No. 19 Batavia 7, St. Charles East 0

No. 21 Glenbard West 35, Downers North 14

No. 23 Neuqua Valley 41, Thornwood 8

Marmion 28, No. 24 Montini 27

Glenbard North 20, No. 25 Naperville North 7

Other Highlights

Payton outlasts Lindblom

Oswego East holds off Plainfield North

St. Ignatius takes down St. Joseph

Herscher beats Coal City