MESA, Ariz. -- The most honest and transparent of all things the Chicago Cubs' front office has stated since they took over the team may have come at the beginning of this spring. They declared there was a possibility they would carry three catchers on their roster to start the season.
No one believed them.
Surprisingly, it looks like they might. Against most conventional thinking, Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo should be in the dugout come Sunday night when the regular season begins. Remember, none can play another position besides catcher. It’s unorthodox to say the least. A trade could still happen for Castillo between now and then but it’s not likely. In fact, he figured he would be gone by now.
“I thought I was going to be traded but I’m here and I’m going to do my best to help this team win,” Castillo said Wednesday before the Cubs Cactus League finale against the Milwaukee Brewers. “I’m just going to prepare like I’m going to play every day. At some point I’ll get in and maybe help the team win.”
It’s a good attitude to have because playing time will be sparse. Despite a very good spring -- Castillo threw out 5 of 10 runners -- Ross and Montero figure to get the majority of the playing time. Manager Joe Maddon discussed the situation with his third catcher.
“I told him I think he’s a major league catcher,” Maddon said. “It will be more difficult to slot him as much as would like to be ... . Of course someone is going to get injured. It always happens so be ready. Don’t languish or be upset that you’re not getting playing time early.”
Castillo has never rocked the boat and he probably won’t now. It’s still much more likely than not he’ll be playing for another team sooner rather than later but in the meantime he needs to be ready for a new role: bench player.
“It’s not easy,” Castillo said of pinch-hitting. “I tip my hat to players that do it well. I’m going to have to learn. It won’t be easy but I’ll try to do my best every time.”
Like the front office, Maddon insists they won’t just give Castillo away. Maybe now that teams see the Cubs are serious about keeping three catchers they’ll raise their offers.
“[Castillo] is a guy we don’t want to lose,” Maddon said. “It’s a premium position to lose. You don’t shake a tree and find a good catcher.”