CHICAGO -- Cubs general manager Jim Hendry may stick to giving players a pat on the back or a discrete wink from now on.
Hendry and Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols exchanged a hug prior to Tuesday night's game at Wrigley Field, and it created a frenzy. Pujols is a free agent after this season, and the Cubs' current first baseman, Carlos Pena, only has a one-year deal.
The two discussed their families, not future contracts.
"I have a good relationship with Albert," Hendry said Wednesday. "That's not going to change. We'd have that if he wasn't the best player in the world."
Hendry said he knew his friendly gesture would be misinterpreted. He's said since March, when Pujols ended contract extension talks with the Cardinals, that he would treat the three-time National League Most Valuable Player the same.
"I told you guys in Spring Training I wouldn't be any different to him than I have been in the last eight, nine years," Hendry said. "He's a great guy, a great player."
Pujols told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the hubbub over his hug was "ridiculous."
Maybe Hendry will just shake hands now? The general manager just laughed.
Cubs place Soto on DL, recall Castillo
CHICAGO -- The Cubs placed catcher Geovany Soto on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a left groin strain and recalled catcher Welington Castillo from Triple-A Iowa.
Soto was injured in the first inning Tuesday night when he did the splits trying to catch a foul tip during Matt Holliday's at-bat. The Cubs catcher stayed in the game to finish the inning but felt it grabbing and was pulled. He underwent an MRI on Wednesday.
"I went down for a ball and I went down to my right, and then my left got started and I did the splits for a minute," Soto said. "Stuff happens. I'm committed to getting better as fast as I can so I can come up here and help the club."
Catcher Koyie Hill started Wednesday, but Castillo may be behind the plate on Thursday when Casey Coleman finishes the Cubs' series against the Cardinals.
Soto will stay in Chicago this week but go to Mesa, Ariz., to continue his rehab when the team goes on a three-city, seven-game trip next week, starting in Cincinnati on Monday. He was batting .226 with eight doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs in 31 games.
"It wasn't that bad," Soto said of the severity of his injury. "For right now, I'll just try to get better. They say 15 days will be plenty."
Castillo, 24, made his Major League debut with the Cubs last season and batted .300 with four doubles, one home run and five RBIs in seven games. He spent nearly all of 2011 Spring Training with the Cubs and batted .632 (12-for-19) with an .842 slugging percentage in 17 Cactus League games.
Cubs manager Mike Quade said Castillo would "probably [start] sooner than later."
"He didn't come here to solely back up and play once a week," Quade said.
What's different now for Castillo?
"I'm more mature in calling the game, and I'm trying to do better every day and play hard," he said.
He was slowed this spring by a sprained right index finger. He'll have to wear a wrap on it for the rest of the season.
"It's not 100 percent, but it's something I can play with," Castillo said.
If Hill was hurt Tuesday, who would be the Cubs' emergency catcher?
"I'll tell you guys this, and he'll say, 'What?' but my sense is Reed Johnson," Quade said. "I think he'd run through a wall for any circumstance."
Lefty Davis to start for Cubs on Saturday
CHICAGO -- Left-hander Doug Davis, who last pitched in July for the Brewers, will start Saturday for the Cubs.
Davis, 35, will be making his first start in the Major Leagues since July 9, 2010, when he faced the Pirates. He was 1-4 with a 7.51 ERA in eight starts last year with Milwaukee, limited because of a heart problem and flexor tendon surgery on his left elbow.
The lefty signed a Minor League deal with the Cubs on April 12 and reported to extended spring training in Mesa, Ariz. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry and pitching coach Mark Riggins watched Davis throw on April 30 in Arizona, and the pitcher then made one start for Class A Daytona May 5, in which he threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up two hits.
He started Tuesday for Triple-A Iowa in Colorado Springs and gave up two runs, four hits and struck out five over 3 2/3 innings. He threw 59 pitches, and the outing was cut short because the Cubs decided he was ready and needed him Saturday.
"He's a Major League pitcher," Hendry said Wednesday. "He used to give us fits. He's a different kind of guy -- he's got that pause in his delivery."
Davis has pitched for the Rangers, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Brewers, and in 12 seasons compiled a 91-101 record and 4.38 ERA.
"He looks like he's back where he used to be," Hendry said. "I thought he had maybe a little more crispness when I saw him in Mesa [in April] than he did his last year in the big leagues."
The Cubs have used lefty James Russell as the fifth-starter fill-in for Andrew Cashner, who went on the disabled list April 6 with a strained right rotator cuff. Russell was 0-4 in four starts and now is back in the bullpen.
Quade discusses defense in team meeting
CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Mike Quade met with his team Wednesday to make sure his players are focused on catching the ball, not just hitting it.
"We made no errors last night -- but that's not true," Quade said of Tuesday's 6-4 loss to the Cardinals. "We've got to clean that up. You can win games a lot of ways, and I want to make sure we're not so wrapped up in trying to do a better job hitting that we're forgetting about the defensive stuff that can help us out.
"They score six runs last night, and at least two of those are gifts. [The Cardinals] are tough enough as it is that we can't allow that."
Quade was upset about a missed relay throw by shortstop Starlin Castro in the eighth and a tag that catcher Koyie Hill didn't make in the seventh. Plus, left fielder Alfonso Soriano slipped on the grass, allowing a ball to roll to the wall for a triple in the fourth.
"Soriano made two of best plays I've seen him make [earlier in the game], and then he slips and falls," Quade said.
The Cubs will live with Soriano's mistakes.
"I don't think he's going to win a Gold Glove, but I watch him work every day," Quade said. "He's doing a decent job overall and driving the ball out of the ballpark and helping us in that regard. I think he's a better left fielder now than he was three years ago. Mistakes are going to happen no matter who you are."
The Cubs are trying to reduce Castro's mistakes, although they do recognize these are part of the growing pains of dealing with a 21-year-old shortstop. The message to him is to make every play.
"There's nothing routine," Quade said. "As a young player, that's how you have to approach things. There's not a routine play. It's routine when it's over and he's out. That's the way I look at it."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.