8/11/2013 12:33 A.M. ET
Castillo turning heads with improved overall play
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Welington Castillo has impressed the Cubs with his defensive play. On Saturday, he came through at the plate.
Castillo hit a solo home run and added a sacrifice fly in the Cubs' 6-5 win over the Cardinals. He's now batting .421 with six RBIs in his last 14 games, and has walked 10 times, including two free passes Saturday, compared to six strikeouts in that stretch.
"Welly's doing well," Chicago second baseman Darwin Barney said. "There's been a lot of growth in him this year. As he gets better back there, there's no better guy for blocking and throwing than Welington Castillo. It's the full package."
The young catcher has impressed Cubs manager Dale Sveum with his development this season.
"I think he's proven to everyone that he's a frontline defensive catcher," Sveum said of Castillo, who took over as the regular this season. "He can be a good hitter, and you're seeing that starting to develop.
"We throw a lot at that kid and he's come a long ways calling plays," Sveum said. "There's nobody better blocking the ball than he is. We know he can throw. The way he calls games, there's no question he's a frontline catcher."
Castillo's .421 average since July 25 ranks first among big league catchers and fifth overall in the Majors.
Cubs call up McDonald from Triple-A
ST. LOUIS -- With the return of Dioner Navarro, the Cubs decided they didn't need extra catcher J.C. Boscan and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa, instead adding outfielder Darnell McDonald from Triple-A.
To make room on the 40-man roster for McDonald, outfielder Thomas Neal was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. He suffered a dislocated right shoulder on Wednesday in Philadelphia.
McDonald arrived in time for batting practice Saturday at Busch Stadium. He has a career .246 batting average (175-for-711) with 38 doubles, five triples, 19 home runs and 78 RBIs in 306 big league games with Baltimore (2004), Minnesota ('07), Cincinnati ('09), Boston ('10-12) and the New York Yankees ('12).
The 34-year-old outfielder saw his most extensive Major League action with the Red Sox in 2010, when he batted .270 (86-for-319) with 18 doubles, nine homers and 34 RBIs in 117 games.
"Darnell's been swinging the bat really well lately," manager Dale Sveum said. "We'll give him a shot and see what happens."
Boscan, 33, was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Thursday after Navarro injured his right ankle in a collision at home plate. Boscan did not appear in a game with the Cubs.
Navarro ready after initially worrisome collision
ST. LOUIS -- When Dioner Navarro was injured Wednesday after a collision at home plate, the Cubs catcher originally thought he broke his right ankle. But after a few minutes, he could move his foot, and figured he would walk off the field.
Cubs assistant athletic trainer Ed Halbur insisted Navarro be taken off on a cart because they weren't sure about the extent of the injury.
"First of all, I didn't want to get carted off," Navarro said Saturday. "I almost punched Ed in the face and told him I wanted to walk off the field. When the play first happened, I definitely thought I broke my ankle. When [Halbur] first came out, my first thought was I broke my ankle."
And now that Navarro was proclaimed ready to go on Saturday, three days after the incident, who is the catcher's hero? Halbur. That's because he tapes Navarro's ankles before every game and that may have helped prevent a fracture.
"Ed is definitely keeping his job," Navarro said.
Navarro was examined Friday in Chicago, and the medical staff determined he did not need to go on the disabled list. On Saturday, the catcher did agility drills, hit and squatted, and he pronounced himself ready to go. When could he catch again?
"Today," Navarro said. "I actually felt a little bit faster than before when I was doing the drills."
The Cubs will wait a few days. Manager Dale Sveum said he was surprised to see how well Navarro felt.
"I've never seen him move like that," Sveum said.
Navarro did have some doubts as he was riding off the field on the cart at Citizens Bank Park.
"Once I got on the cart going out, a lot of things, especially negative things started going through my mind," Navarro said. "But after the X-ray and overnight the way it felt, I knew it wasn't going to be as bad."
He's watched a replay of the collision with Chase Utley once.
"It was a clean play, two ballplayers making a good baseball play," Navarro said. "I was hoping [Utley] was a little sore the next day, but he was in the lineup."
• On Friday, David DeJesus batted cleanup for the first time in his career, but he was back as the Cubs' leadoff man on Saturday. He was 0-for-3 and stranded two baserunners on Friday. Are his days as a No. 4 hitter over?
"I wouldn't say that," Sveum said. "You never know with this lineup right now."
The Cubs have tried different combinations since Alfonso Soriano was traded to the Yankees.
• Javier Baez, the No. 1 prospect on MLB.com's Top 20 Cubs' prospects list, hit a broken-bat RBI single with the bases loaded in the ninth on Friday to lift Double-A Tennessee to an 11-10 win over Montgomery.
Kris Bryant, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in June's First-Year Player Draft, hit a walk-off sacrifice fly in the ninth in Class A Boise's 5-4 win over Vancouver. Bryant had two hits, including a double, and was batting .315 for the season. He has a 12-game hitting streak.
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.