Cubs catchers Welington Castillo, Steve Clevenger learning on job
BY NEIL HAYES email@example.com August 24, 2012 8:48PM
Padres catcher Ramon Hernandez tags out Josh Vitters in the eighth inning Friday. Vitters was trying to score on Alfonso Soriano’s fly to right. | Paul Beaty~AP
ROCKIES AT CUBS
The facts: 12:05 p.m., CSN, 720-AM.
The starters: Alex White (2-6, 5.55 ERA) vs. Brooks Raley (1-2, 7.63).
Updated: September 26, 2012 6:09AM
Manager Dale Sveum said rookie catchers Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger continue to make strides, but the learning curve remains steep for reasons that extend beyond the box score.
“They’ve been introduced to something they’ve never been introduced to before,” Sveum said. “They’re trying to survive in the big leagues while learning how to call games and [execute] game plans. The batting system and the videos are something that’s harped on and to be able to apply that to a game when you’re trying to survive your first year in the big leagues hitting, throwing, blocking isn’t the easiest thing to do. They’ve both grown by leaps and bounds since the beginning of the year as far as sticking to game plans and things like that.”
The Cubs’ young pitching staff has limitations, which complicates strategic decisions.
“We don’t have the veterans who can do a lot of things according to a game plan, either,” Sveum said. “Lots of times you go into a game, and the curveball is the perfect pitch, but we don’t have any curveball guys. That becomes difficult. They have to learn how to adjust to that as well.”
Castillo started Friday and displayed his arm strength by throwing out DJ LeMahieu in the fourth inning. He hit his fourth home run in the fifth.
“Swinging the bat is part of it, but that’s the last thing we’re evaluating right now,” Sveum said.
Milestone for Jackson
Brett Jackson was batting only .158 since being called up from Class AAA Iowa and was 0-for-10 before his home run off Matt Belisle tied the score 3-3 in the eighth. He lined out to deep left in the fifth.
Sveum hopes Jackson’s first home run at Wrigley Field instills confidence.
“The entire time I’ve been here, it has been consistent progress,” Jackson said. “Whether that’s a bad day of results or a good day of results, I’m still moving in the right direction. I wholeheartedly believe that. I’m really enjoying the process.”
Tyler Colvin returned to Wrigley for the first time since the Cubs traded their first-round draft pick from 2006 along with LeMahieu to the Rockies for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers last December. Once thought to be a potential building block for the future, Colvin hit only .150 in 80 games for the Cubs last season.
The change of scenery seems to have helped Colvin, who’s hitting .290 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI after going 0-for-4 Friday.
“I’m on the other side,” Colvin said before the game. “It will definitely be different. On the other hand, I’m excited to be here and play in front of these fans again.”