The Chicago Cubs are looking for backups on their 25-man major league roster, inviting 21 non-roster players to big-league camp beginning Feb. 18 when pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, Ariz.
The Cubs' major needs center around a utility middle infielder and a backup catcher with major league experience. Alfredo Amezaga, 34, has spent parts of nine seasons with four teams. A switch-hitter who can play three infield positions and all three outfield spots, Amezaga is a .247 hitter and could be a solid backup for shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney. The Cubs went the entire 2011 season without a backup for Castro. Barney had to move over to shortstop for the five games Castro missed.
Another option is 33-year-old Edgar Gonzalez, a former Padre who can play all four infield positions as well as left and right field. A right-handed hitter, Gonzalez batted .315 at the San Francisco Giants Triple-A affiliate Fresno in 2011.
Former Minnesota Twin Matt Tolbert will also get a look this spring. Tolbert a .230 hitter in four years as a utility man, can play all the infield positions. Other candidates include Jonathan Mota and 34-year-old minor league veteran Bobby Scales. Mota has been in the Cub system for seven years. Scales played at Iowa before he was sold to the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan last June.
Jason Jaramillo has three years of part-time big-league catching experience. The Cubs will have to decide if Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger are ready to become Geovany Soto’s full-time backup. If not, it looks like the switch-hitting Jaramillo will replace Koyie Hill as the second catcher.