When the Cubs “arrive,” Welington Castillo hopes to be part of it


The Chicago Cubs have had a lot of turnover in the last few seasons. Even the roster today is nearly unrecognizable from who was here Opening Day. One face that has become recognized by fans, despite the turnover is Welington Castillo, who hopes he’s still here when the Cubs make the turn from the bottom to the top.

Castillo has been with the Cubs for at least part of the last five seasons, and before having knee surgery last September, was making his case for filling the position in the long-term. This year, while the power numbers are up, the average is down forty points from 2013. But what he provides in offense is a bonus. What the Cubs need most out of Castillo is his game-calling to be in the forefront, especially with all the changes in the Cubs rotation.

“I just want to be part of this team when we win the championship. I want to be behind the plate to catch or call the last pitch of the World Series.”

Down the stretch here in 2014, the Cubs are essentially having open auditions for next year’s pitching staff. A few spots seem to be locks, but there are several openings, and the importance of a good catcher cannot be overlooked.

With so many new faces, Castillo knows he has his work cut out for him.

"“It’s not easy because you have to know what pitch they can throw for strikes, what pitch when they’re behind on the count, what’s their strikeout pitch, what pitch do they command better,” Castillo said. “You’re not going to learn that from one time. You need at least a couple times. But there are 19 games left.” h/t Mark Gonzalez, Chicago Tribune"

Although his offensive numbers are down, his work behind the plate has been solid. He leads the National League in assists at the position (76), and is fourth in the league in  runners caught stealing (24). His 31 percent caught-stealing rate is the best of his career since becoming an everyday player.

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Castillo referenced the fact that preparation for a championship begins now.

"“It means a lot to catch those guys,” Castillo said. “I just want to be part of this team when we win the championship. I want to be behind the plate to catch or call the last pitch of the World Series. And that starts here – catching those guys, trying to build the relationships and the confidence, and I think it’s going to come from that.”"

The Cubs have played it carefully with Castillo following the knee surgery last year. With so many extra-inning games this year, he’s seen his share of innings behind the plate. And add to that the Cubs don’t have anyone immediately behind him in the system that they would deem ready. Kyle Schwarber is a possibility, but if he even ends up catching is yet to be determined.

Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro had bounce-back campaigns this year. There’s no reason to think Castillo can’t do the same next season.