The learning curve for Welington Castillo


The learning curve for Welington Castillo

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.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria 'surprised' Melky Cabrera hasn't been traded

White Sox manager Rick Renteria 'surprised' Melky Cabrera hasn't been traded

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The White Sox have offloaded more pieces in the past eight months than that furniture store that always seems to be going out of business.

Everything. Must. Go.

Even so, the team hasn’t found any takers for veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera, who finished with four hits in Saturday night’s 7-2 White Sox loss to the Kansas City Royals. Cabrera finished a triple shy of the cycle and drove in two runs. That Cabrera still resides on the South Side is a surprise to White Sox manager Rick Renteria.

“Honestly yeah, to be honest,” Renteria said. “To me he’s a premier Major League baseball player who has been playing outstanding defense. And he has been for us one of the two or three guys who has been timing his hitting in terms of driving in runs when we need them, putting together really good at-bats when we need them. Just playing the game. Yeah, kind of surprised.”

Despite making their intentions known that everyone short of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon are available, Cabrera’s name has barely registered a blip on the radar when it comes to trade rumors.

Several factors have probably prevented Cabrera from being dealt, the biggest being his salary. Cabrera is still owed roughly $6.3 million of his $15 million salary, which makes him an expensive option.

Defensive metrics also don’t have much love for Cabrera despite his eight outfield assists. Cabrera’s lack of range has produced minus-6 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-4.7 Ultimate Zone Rating.

Those figures likely would like have teams lean toward making Cabrera a designated hitter. While he’s been one of the team’s most consistent and prominent offensive performers, Cabrera’s .786 ranks only about 38th in the American League.

As FanRag’s Jon Heyman noted earlier Saturday, to trade Cabrera the White Sox would likely have to eat most of the outfielder’s remaining salary.

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