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MLB: Castillo brings a lot to the table behind the dish

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 11:35 p.m. CDT
Cubs catcher Welington Castillo tags out Japan's Sho Nakata at the plate during the ninth inning of a spring-training game in Mesa, Ariz.

MESA, Ariz. – In the Cubs’ new scheme of things, the catcher plays as big a role as the pitcher.

Therefore, Welington Castillo’s duties fall under the see-all eyes of pitching coach Chris Bosio, whose theory of catchers sticking to computer-generated scouting reports coincides with the front office’s.

Castillo, who turns 26 Sunday but enters his ninth season in the organization, has finally become the No. 1 catcher, inheriting a partly homegrown, mostly cobbled-together pitching staff.

“I have a pretty good feeling about the pitching staff we have,” the personable Dominican native said. “I know them pretty good, and I think they have a lot of confidence in me. That’s what really matters, that [they] have trust in me.”

Perhaps more important is that Bosio and manager Dale Sveum have confidence and trust in Castillo. Catchers who deviate from the game plan usually find themselves behind closed doors.

“He’s done a really good job of willingness to accept the role as far as the video and getting to know the pitchers,” Bosio said. “He’s come a long way in a short period of time.

“He’s a very talented guy with the arm, block-ability and throw-ability. His knowledge and aptitude have become a lot better.”

Castillo knows the drill in this second year of doing things the new Cubs Way. But ...

“Sometimes you have got to forget about the scouting report,” he says. “You don’t want the pitcher to throw a pitch without confidence and conviction.”

Opening day starter Jeff Samardzija threw to Castillo at almost every minor league stop and says “we’ve got a good combination going.”

While his defense and arm strength are unquestioned, Castillo will be scrutinized by fans for his offense. He understands.

“Everybody looks at that,” he said. “When you’re a little kid, that was the most important thing. But my No. 1 thing [now] is [handling pitchers]. If you can hit, that’s another level.”

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