New Chicago White Sox catcher Castillo working hard to get up to speed

GLENDALE, Ariz. - After finishing catching Lucas Giolito Friday at Camelback Ranch, Welington Castillo could have packed up his gear, headed to the clubhouse for lunch and called it a day.

That's how it goes in the early stages of spring training.

With only pitchers and catchers officially in camp, the work is far from taxing compared to the grind of the upcoming season.

Castillo could have come up from the back practice fields, but the Chicago White Sox's new catcher stayed put and watched Juan Minaya and Dylan Covey throw their bullpens.

After that, Castillo talked with holdover catcher Kevan Smith, getting tips on all of the new pitchers he is going to be working with.

And after that, it was off to the video room for more study, more preparation.

"I consider myself a hard worker," Castillo said. "I work hard in every area, catching, throwing and hitting. I like to work on everything. I don't take anything for granted."

Castillo's outlook is understandable.

After breaking in with the Cubs in 2010 and playing sparingly for three seasons, Castillo established himself and was then traded twice in two weeks in 2015.

The 30-year-old was also granted free agency twice, most recently after last season.

"It's not easy, honestly," Castillo said.

The off-season has been brutal for many free agents, but Castillo went off the market fast when he signed a two-year, $15 million contract with a club option for a third season on Dec. 1.

Last year, Castillo batted .282 with 20 home runs and 53 RBI in 96 games with the Orioles. He also led all major-league catchers with a 44 percent success rate throwing out baserunners.

Castillo seems like an odd fit with the Sox, who are rebuilding and loaded with young players.

But his two-way skill, experience and work ethic are welcome by the White Sox, and Castillo is the perfect player to help develop a promising pitching staff.

"I know how to manage that situation," Castillo said. "The more I catch them, the more I talk to them, that relationship will come out. I don't worry about that. I know myself and I'm going to try to get with everybody and try to get the confidence out of them."

Castillo likely could have signed with a team closer to being ready to contend, but he sees a bright future with the Sox and he's also reunited with manager Rick Renteria.

In 2014, Castillo and Renteria were together with the Cubs.

"I know Renteria," Castillo said. "I played for him and he's a great guy, a great manager. He stays positive all the time. Those are the reasons I am here and I want to help this team win. This pitching staff is really young and I can help them."

Renteria is happy to be back with Castillo as well, and he knows how much effort he's going to get from the veteran catcher.

"I was very comfortable with Wely when I was on the North Side," Renteria said. "I always liked him as a player, as a catcher. Very driven, hard working. He's almost a kid we have to tone down a little bit because he'd want to play every day, even through soreness. I'm glad that he feels comfortable."

  Catcher Welington Castillo joins the Chicago White Sox work out at spring training at Glendale, Arizona, and Camelback Ranch on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. SCOT GREGOR/
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