Welington Castillo stood up at his locker and took the blame. He pointed the finger at himself because he knows that it’s his job to keep everyone else involved in the game. And spacing out even for a moment can cost this team.
“I want to apologize to all my teammates for doing that,” Castillo said after Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the San Diego Padres. “That’s not going to happen anymore. I feel like I lost the game.”
It’s not quite that simple, because the Cubs are 11-17 and have already lost too many games this way. This would have been a nice series win against another last-place team.
But Castillo lost concentration in the four-run eighth inning, looking down the third-base line and jogging toward the backstop to pick up a passed ball. The catcher got booed at Wrigley Field when Kyle Blanks sprinted home to score the game-tying run.
Last fall, the city’s Landmarks Commission approved a proposal that moved the brick wall three feet closer to home plate and added 56 premium seats. It has created some sharp, fast, unpredictable bounces on these plays.
Manager Dale Sveum said Castillo “took it for granted” that Blanks would score. Blanks hesitated and reacted to Castillo’s casual body language. The catcher didn’t hear anything from pitcher Shawn Camp or his other teammates.
“I’m the one that has to keep everybody in the game, and I was out of the game,” Castillo said. “All you guys saw what happened."
The Cubs wasted another strong start from Travis Wood, as well as Scott Hairston’s two-run homer in the seventh inning. Wood retired the first 14 batters he faced – and was one out away from eight shutout innings – but this was not going to be a perfect game.
On a chilling day where it was 45 degrees at first pitch, with the wind moving in 19 mph from center field, Darwin Barney and Julio Borbon were on a collision course. Yonder Alonso lifted a pop-up into shallow right field that landed just out of reach and dropped between the two defenders to make it 2-1.
“I was coming in hard,” Borbon said. “As I was approaching him, he had to literally dive to get out of the way. Otherwise, he probably thought he was going to get run over. It’s the same thing (for me). I was going fast (and) trying to avoid that at the same time. (We) weren’t able to get it.”
The Cubs haven’t been getting those bounces, but they believe Castillo could be one of their core players, their catcher for years to come. Then again, the previous administration once felt the same way about Geovany Soto, the 2008 National League Rookie of the Year who never lived up to that potential here.
Sveum – who has sent messages through the media to other young players already this season – didn’t want to blast Castillo.
“Let’s not get carried away,” Sveum said. “He’s playing really well and throwing people out. He’s a big part of why these starting pitchers are pitching really well, too. He obviously had a mental lapse. But he’s caught really, really well for a young kid that had a half-year in the big leagues.”
Sveum has described Castillo, 26, as someone who’s going to stick around a long time and make some money in this game.
“I don’t even know how that happened to me, because I’m not that kind of person,” Castillo said. “That’s why I feel bad for all my teammates and everybody (else), because I’m not like that. I got to learn from that. Next time that’s not gonna happen.”