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Castillo's hot bat on the bench

CHICAGO – Welington Castillo is actually one of the few Chicago Cubs players swinging a hot bat, although he found himself on the bench for Friday’s opener of a brief three-game homestand.

Castillo went 7-for-17 (.412) on the just-concluded seven-game road trip, including a home run, a pair of runs scored and three walks. It’s those bases on balls that could signify just how comfortable he is at the plate right now. The three walks gave him just nine on the season.

Going back to the June 13 game against the Cincinnati Reds, Castillo is batting .455 (10-for-22) over his last six contests. Before the current run, though, he was just 2-for-28 (.071) over an eight-game stretch from May 31-June 12.

It’s one thing to try and ride a hot hand, especially with a team struggling to hit, but manager Dale Sveum doesn’t want to abuse his young catcher either.

Castillo caught all four games in the heat of St. Louis and with the Cubs arriving back in town during the early-morning hours Friday, Sveum decided to start the switch-hitting Dioner Navarro against Houston Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel.

“It was set up for (Navarro to catch),” Sveum said. “(Castillo) caught four days in a row. He caught every day in St. Louis and that so it was just a matter of having the quick turnover. Playing two games in 24 hours, you have to get Navarro in there.”

Friday’s complete Cubs lineup:

Darwin Barney, 2B

Cody Ramsom, 3B

Alfonso Soriano, LF

Anthony Rizzo, 1B

Starlin Castro, SS

Navarro, C

Scott Hairston, RF

Ryan Sweeney, CF

Matt Garza, P