CHICAGO – Tired of the two years worth of injuries that had cost him a chance at winning the Cubs’ starting catcher job, or at the very least a spot on the 25-man roster, Welington Castillo changed his offseason routine.
Castillo’s agent suggested he work at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., over the offseason and that work has paid off so far for the 25 year old.
“I worked really hard there and I feel like my body’s 100 percent,” Castillo said. “You need to prepare every day even if you don’t play.”
Through the Cubs’ first 14 games, Castillo is hitting a team-best .425 with one home run and four RBIs. He went 4 for 4 with a double and run scored in Thursday’s 6-2 win against the Rangers, the first four-hit game of his career.
“If he can swing the bat like this all year long we could have something really special because of the defense he has behind the plate is one of the best in baseball right now,” manager Dale Sveum said.
Castillo said spring training gave him plenty of time to get acclimated with the new pitchers on the roster. Even with the in-season additions – which have included Kevin Gregg and Kameron Loe – bullpen sessions often help him get on the same page with the pitchers.
“That’s all you need, an opportunity to play every day and show them that you can play at this level and handle everything here,” Castillo said. “When you’re working really hard for this, now that I’ve had an opportunity to play every day, why not just play the way that you play and do your best and show them you can stay at this level.”
Garza’s rehab assignment changed: With bad field conditions and potentially less than ideal weather expected, the Cubs have decided pitcher Matt Garza (lat strain) will not make his scheduled rehab start today at Low-A Kane County.
Instead, Garza will throw a simulated game in Milwaukee that will last two innings and approximately 35 pitches. Sveum said Garza will likely pitch at Double-A Tennessee for his next rehab start. Although they considered sending Garza to High-A Daytona, it would have been too late at this point because the Cubs want to keep him on his current schedule which requires him to throw today.
Rizzo’s homer No. 1: First baseman Anthony Rizzo is still in a bit of a slump hitting .180 to start the season, but he moved into first place in a different category Thursday against the Rangers.
Rizzo’s two-run homer in the third inning, his fourth of the year, went an estimated 475 feet which is the longest home run hit in the majors this season. Although he finished 1 for 4 in the Cubs’ win Rizzo said he felt much better at the plate and hopes he can build off the momentum.
“I’m sure that won’t last very long with the good hitters in the league but it was one of those things where I had a good swing, got a good pitch to hit and didn’t try to do too much with it,” Rizzo said. “I got a good result out of it.”