CHICAGO -- Even after hitting three home runs on Wednesday, Chicago Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro found himself benched in Thursday's game against the Chicago White Sox with Welington Castillo getting the start.
Give Cubs manager Dale Sveum credit for sticking to his belief in Castillo and his plan for player development even if it means sitting a guy who is coming off a three-homer game. Sveum was quick to point out on Wednesday that Navarro is great but he is still the backup at the position.
"Weli is becoming one of the better defensive catchers in the game," Sveum said. "We know about his ability to throw runners out and he has great mechanics hitting. It is just about getting those 500 to 1,000 at-bats. He is really close to becoming one of the elite catchers in the game if not already."
Winning games of course is an important part of player development, but some of that might have to go on the backburner as the Cubs model for the future evolves.
"I think everybody has the same issues," Sveum said. "Player development, bringing young players up or using them because of injury, that is part of the gig and part of what we do as managers and coaches."
Cubs catching instructor Mike Borzello has had the most impact on Castillio and his maturation as a major league catcher. He started from scratch with the young catcher a year and a half ago.
"He had to learn the whole process and understand what an attack plan was," said Borzello, who worked with the Yankees for 15 years in the same capacity. "It takes time, but he has really worked hard at the fundamental part of catching."
Castillo understands that some of his offense will suffer while he learns behind the plate.
"I never worried about the catching part when I was first signed," Castillo said. "I thought the way to the major leagues was by hitting. I know my hitting will get better, but my job is to call a good game and play solid defense."