Castillo, who has taken over most of the catching duties since Geovany Soto was dealt to the Rangers at the Trade Deadline, was like "a deer in the headlights" in Spring Training, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Monday. Castillo wasn't that sure of himself even two months ago, Sveum said.
"What he's done in the last six months has been the most impressive of anybody, and he's the most improved guy I've seen this season," Sveum said.
Castillo, 25, has worked with pitching coach Chris Bosio and coach Mike Borzello on each day's game plan, and is counted on to handle the pitch calling. Sveum said the transformation is a combination of more playing time, Soto's departure, and the realization that Castillo has a chance to be an everyday big league catcher.
"It's not that 'yes' man anymore," Sveum said of the young catcher. "He'll actually have input on situations. There are definitely guys who are starting to step up and going into Spring Training, it'll be a very different atmosphere than going into it this past spring."
Castillo took it as a challenge.
"I want to be a leader one day, and why not start now?" Castillo said. "They're giving me an opportunity to be an everyday catcher and I think I have to take advantage of that and start doing that now. I feel really good and appreciate the confidence they have in me."
Castillo opened the season at Triple-A Iowa. He played nine games for the Cubs in the first half of the season, and has been behind the plate for 41 games in the second half. He likes the added responsibility the coaches and Sveum have given him, and the preparation involved for that day's game. He's doing his homework.
"When you're behind the plate, you call one pitch, and [the pitchers] know what you're doing," Castillo said. "I think that's helped me, working with Borzello and going over the scouting reports. I'll explain my ideas and they'll explain their ideas, and we get to one point where we know each other and trust each other, too."