Spring Training Preview: Behind the Dish
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Baseball is finally back. Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training this past weekend, and Cubs fans everywhere got a little more excited with the realization that the baseball season is almost here.
To get us back into gear, the February issue of Vine Line previewed the squad heading into Mesa, Ariz. We broke the team down into five categories—starting pitching, relief pitching, catchers, infielders and outfielders—to give fans a clearer picture of what to expect when the Cubs break camp and head to Chicago.
Below is a look at the catchers. The February issue is on newsstands now, with single issues available by calling 800-618-8377. Or visit the Vine Line page on Cubs.com to subscribe to the magazine.
After Geovany Soto was traded at the deadline last July, manager Dale Sveum gave equal playing time to catchers Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo. Though Clevenger won the backup job out of Spring Training, Castillo had earned the bulk of the starts by September, thanks to a strong presence with the bat (with both solid power and on-base skills) and what Sveum described as one of the best arms in baseball behind the plate.
Outside of throwing out would-be base stealers, Castillo does need to work on everything that comes with being an everyday backstop in the big leagues, including calling a good game and framing pitches. The pieces are there for Castillo to be an All-Star-caliber catcher, but it’s up to him and the coaching staff to put it all together and extract his full potential.
Dioner Navarro was signed to be Castillo’s backup and also act as veteran insurance in case Castillo fails to mature as hoped. Navarro’s signing all but assures Clevenger is left without a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.