Castillo’s offense could make a difference

CASTILLO-W-061612-SG-02

(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs made starting pitching a priority this offseason, as evidenced by the addition of four experienced right-handers. However, the organization didn’t acquire an offensive version of Edwin Jackson—a headline name that will instantly bolster the lineup.

One potential reason they didn’t add a bat via free agency is that they’re banking on a hitter they already have in the system to step up this season. One likely spot for offensive improvement is at catcher, where 25-year-old Welington Castillo is primed to take over the starting job. Castillo showed in the second half of 2012 that he can compete at the major league level. He hit .265/.377/.418 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with five home runs in 170 at-bats last year, but much of that damage came after the All-Star break (.289/.353/.434, four home runs).

This offseason, the Cubs also brought in former All-Star catcher Dioner Navarro to both push the 25-year-old Castillo and give him some much-needed advice. Castillo will be batting fourth Thursday as the Cubs head to Camelback Ranch and take on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Chris Rusin, 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA on the spring, gets the start Thursday, and the Dodgers will send out lefty Chris Capuano. Cubs fans can listen to the game exclusively on Cubs.com. Here’s the Cubs’ lineup:

2B Darwin Barney
3B Brent Lillibridge
RF Nate Schierholtz
C Welington Castillo
CF Dave Sappelt
SS Luis Valbuena
LF Darnell McDonald
1B Brad Nelson
P Chris Rusin

Cubs Notes: Ian Stewart is scheduled to play in a minor league game Thursday. It marks his first game action since injuring his left quad on Feb. 21.

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