Konerko hits 2 HRs, White Sox beat Cubs
MESA, Ariz. (AP) — One spot over in the clubhouse at HoHoKam Stadium means everything to Chicago Cubs catcher Welington Castillo.
This year the 25-year-old is stationed in the outer most locker among the catcher's section of veterans and prospects. It's the same spot the Geovany Soto occupied for several years as the Cubs' No. 1 catcher.
It is Castillo's spot now and he isn't taking that designation lightly.
"It means a lot but I am the kind of person that even though I have a job I am not going to be comfortable," Castillo said before Thursday's 8-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox. "I am going to play hard until I get the best out of me."
More than anything, he wants to stay healthy after several stints to the disabled list in recent years. He looked good against the White Sox despite going 0-for-3 at the plate as the 10,647 fans at HoHoKam oohed and aahed when Castillo made a behind the back catch near the White Sox dugout on Jared Mitchell's pop foul in the fifth inning.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum foresees Castillo, who took over the catching duties in the second half after Soto was traded to the Rangers on July 31, breaking the century mark in his first full year.
"You'd like to see Welington start out his first year playing every day, catch right around 100 to 110 games," Sveum said. "But that's subject to change depending on his own production and how things are going."
Against the White Sox, Castillo had a chance to catch right-handed starter Carlos Villanueva, who for one of the few times in his career knows he has a spot on the roster before the last week of camp.
The assurance lets him work on things a little more rather than competing. In his third outing of the spring, he totaled four innings while allowing six hits, two earned with no walks and three strikeouts.
"I had a very good bullpen (in between outings) and it carried over until today," Villanueva said. "I'm still struggling a little bit with my command. You take the hits. The home run Konerko hit (in the fourth inning) was a real surprise to me. I threw it exactly where I wanted, right there on his hands."
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