Results tagged ‘ Dioner Navarro ’
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The Crosstown Cup can bring out the best in players. Exhibit A: Dioner Navarro. The free-swinging backup catcher was locked in Wednesday afternoon, ripping home runs in each of his three official plate appearances to lead the Cubs to a 9-3 victory over the White Sox.
Batting right-handed in the second and fourth innings, the 29-year-old switch-hitter took a pair of John Danks change-ups into the left-field stands. Then batting left-handed in the bottom of the seventh, he launched a Brian Omogrosso fastball down the right-field line onto Sheffield Avenue for his third homer of the day. Navarro finished 3-for-3 with three home runs, six RBI, four runs and a walk.
It was the first multi-homer game of Navarro’s career, and he became the first Cubs catcher to hit three homers in a game since George Mitterwald in 1974. After yesterday’s win and Tuesday’s rainout, the North Siders lead the Crosstown series 2-0. Travis Wood will take the mound for the Cubs Thursday afternoon, opposite Sox veteran Jake Peavy.
(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.
The Cubs season is officially underway. After a few weeks of workouts, batting practice and bullpen sessions, the team cranked it up to game speed in a blue vs. white intrasquad matchup Thursday afternoon at HoHoKam Stadium. The veteran-laden white team took down the top prospects in the system 7-3 in a five-inning affair.
After a rainy day yesterday in Arizona—it even snowed in some areas—the grounds crew spent most of the morning getting the HoHoKam field back in playing shape. But by game time, things had dried out.
The white team got off to a fast start off blue team starter Chris Rusin in the first. After a David DeJesus groundout, Starlin Castro doubled, Anthony Rizzo walked and Alfonso Soriano singled to load the bases. New Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro followed with a single, and third baseman Ian Stewart laced a ringing double to left center to put the white team up 4-0.
Shortstop Starlin Castro, who many expect to have a big year in 2013, got off to a good start with the bat, going 3-for-3 with a double and three runs scored.
“Castro put two good swings and then just missed another really nice swing down the right field line,” said manager Dale Sveum. “That’s obviously one guy we really don’t have to be concerned with when the numbers are all done. That guy can just hit.”
Though the white team boasted most of the projected Opening Day starters, the blue team might have been the more interesting group, as it was loaded with many of the organization’s top prospects, including Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Junior Lake and Brett Jackson.
And Soler didn’t disappoint. The left fielder gave Cubs fans a glimpse of the future when he crushed a soaring home run to left off minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck in his first at-bat of the game. Soler also walked and made a good play coming in on a ball in left. Mind you, it was only an intrasquad, five-inning game and he was hitting off a minor league pitcher, but Soler certainly made a good impression.
“Pretty nice bat speed you saw,” Sveum said. “Those were some good at-bats—took a walk. … That guy following him up (Baez) had some pretty good bat speed going through the strike zone too—as well as Lake. There are some guys who are on that radar right now that could possibly be impact players some day.”
Top-ranked shortstop prospect Baez, who batted in the seven hole, had a little more of an up-and-down game. He struck out in the second and was robbed by Castro, who ranged to his left for a diving catch, in the fourth. On defense, he made a diving play of his own to rob David DeJesus of a single, but also got eaten up by Navarro’s single in the first.
“Baez was a little shaky today,” Sveum said. “Kind of some young stuff that’s still there that’s got to be cleaned up. [There's] a lot of stuff, even stuff that’s behind the scenes that everybody else doesn’t see, that we have to change—some instinctive stuff.”
New Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz homered in the bottom of the third inning and had an RBI sac fly for the white team. Brian Bogusevic, an Oak Lawn, Ill., native who spent the last three years with the Houston Astros, also homered for the blue team.
Following the game, Sveum announced that third baseman Ian Stewart, who was pulled from the game in the second inning, was day-to-day with a mild—emphasis on mild—left quad strain. Josh Vitters is also day-to-day with the same injury.
“It’s an epidemic,” Sveum joked.
(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.