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Saturday, June 22, 2013
Navarro-Garza pairing is no sure thing

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- Despite the obvious advantages of continuing to use Dioner Navarro as the catcher in games pitched by Matt Garza, manager Dale Sveum won’t commit to the pairing moving forward.

Garza has been downright dominating in his past two starts, going seven scoreless innings last weekend at New York against the Mets and then allowing one run over eight innings Friday against the Houston Astros. Both those games came with Navarro behind the plate.

The other five starts Garza has made this season all came with Welington Castillo behind the plate. In the last of those five, Garza gave up nine runs to the Cincinnati Reds, and in the last two, he gave up 13 combined earned runs.

“Well, I’m not going to sit here and say he’s going to be his personal catcher,” Sveum said. “It worked out that way. I really wanted [Castillo] to catch all four games in St. Louis to kind of be involved with the best catcher in baseball, to see the similarities and to compete against the best guy in baseball. Obviously we want [Castillo] to get to that level, or somewhat near it, anyway.”

That “best catcher in baseball” is obviously the St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina, and while still nowhere near that level, Castillo showed a thing or two with his 3-for-4 game in the series finale that included a home run. Matching wits behind the plate was probably higher on Sveum's priority list, though.

Sveum doesn’t seem comfortable giving Castillo the suggestion that he isn’t equipped to catch Garza, although it’s not like he finds the concept of a personal catcher to be completely baseless.

“I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s not a thought,” Sveum said. “I’m not going to just put [Navarro] in there for that reason.”

Even if Sveum went to Navarro for every game Garza pitches in a Cubs uniform, he probably wouldn’t call it a personal catcher setup.

“You still want the pitcher to be comfortable, too,” Sveum said. “When a guy is on the mound, no matter what, whatever you want to call it, it’s his game. That’s why starting pitching is where everything starts at. You still want those guys to be comfortable.”