A day after Cubs manager Rick Renteria said injured catcher Welington Castillo “continues to progress,” Castillo progressed himself off the disabled list and back onto the North Siders’ active roster.
Castillo went on the DL after exiting a June 1 game against the Brewers with a rib cage injury. He began a rehab assignment Friday night with Triple-A Iowa, catching nine innings and picking up a single and an RBI in five at-bats. He went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks in Saturday night’s game in Des Moines. Sunday, he was back on the big league team.
“More than anything, just having him back,” Renteria said of the impact of Castillo’s return. “He’s been with the club, developing as a catcher and being a part of the Cubs moving forward. Just having him back and healthy, being able to get back out there again with his teammates. It will be good to have him.”
Though he didn’t get the start behind the plate for Sunday’s series-finale with the Pirates — he was still en route as the team prepared for the game — Castillo is a welcome return to the Cubs’ lineup. When he went down at the beginning of the month, he was batting just .242 with a .287 on-base percentage, but in his absence Cubs catchers John Baker and Eli Whiteside have combined to bat .149.
Cubs catchers rank 27th in Major League Baseball in batting average (.207), 27th in slugging percentage (.302), 29th in runs scored (16), 29th in walks (13) and last in on-base percentage (.254). Only two National League teams’ catchers have struck out more than Cubs backstops (87).
Whiteside was designated for assignment in the corresponding move. He hit just .120 in eight games, though he did collect an RBI double in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. But Renteria and the Cubs were pleased with Whiteside’s defensive play during Castillo’s DL stint — which included an injury flare-up for Baker, too, forcing Whiteside into a starting role for a few games. Renteria said he “selfishly” hopes Whiteside will clear waivers and returns to Iowa.
“He’s done a nice job for us. He’s an excellent receiver, had a nice game for us last night. He helped transition while Weli went down, continued to have the ball moving forward," Renteria said. "From a very selfish perspective, I think we as an organization hope he clears and still have him within the system.
“When you can have anybody come up in a position as he did and fill in to the role and be able to just kind of flawlessly come in with all the pitchers, call games and receive and make it seem as though we’re still moving forward. It’s very, very important to have those guys, and hopefully we’ll continue to have him.”