Joe Maddon hopes to keep rookie 'solvent' with 3-catcher rotation

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon laid out his plan for a three-headed catching rotation on Monday, indicating Miguel Montero will catch for Jake Arrieta while David Ross will be behind the plate for Jon Lester.

It could allow rookie Willson Contreras to catch the Cubs' other three starters.

Maddon discussed his plans before Contreras got his first career start in a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

"If we can get Contreras two out of five, possibly a three spot once in a while, I think that can keep him somewhat solvent," Maddon said.

While Contreras is off to a good start in the majors after tearing through Triple-A, Montero is struggling offensively and defensively. Contreras, a day after he was brought in as a pinch hitter and homered in his first career at-bat, threw out his first runner Monday night.

"If he does [take the job], it's for the right reasons," Montero said. "He's young, full of excitement, lots of energy. It's all good, especially because it's Willson."

Montero will still get his at-bats but no longer is he the Cubs' starting catcher as they head toward the second half of the season.

Montero has been through this before, as the Cubs carried three catchers early last season before trading Welington Castillo.

Back then Montero, who is hitting .202 while throwing out only two of 32 attempted base stealers this season, bristled at the notion of sitting so often. He now says he has moved on from it.

"I can't do anything about it," Montero said. "Plus it's a good opportunity for Willson.

"You don't want to hit .200, but it's not bothering me whatsoever. It's not even on my mind."

Montero says he recommended Contreras to his agent last year when he saw the prospect at Double-A while he was rehabbing an injury. This came as Contreras was starting to make headlines. Incidentally, Montero's agent signed him and Contreras has not slowed since.

"He's the guy of the future for the Cubs," Montero said. "At this point in my career, in this clubhouse, it's about winning. Stats don't concern me. I call a good game. That's a big part. My pitchers are doing great.

"I'm not afraid to lose my job. I've always said that because I know what I'm capable of doing, and if I can help someone else in the same position I'd be more than happy. [Kyle] Schwarber last year and now Contreras. When I retire and go home I would like the catchers that took my job to say 'man, he helped me so much' -- not that he hates me. He likes me and I did something good."

Montero is owed $14 million in the last year of his deal in 2017, so the assumption is he and Contreras will split time knowing Schwarber could also log time behind the plate.

For now, Maddon plans to use his young weapon as much as it makes sense for a rookie on a contending team.

"As we move forward, if he were to pinch hit he could actually finish some games because his arm definitely plays in the latter part of the game throwing runners out," Maddon said. "We'll be creative."

Maddon indicated he didn't need to talk with Montero about reduced playing time. And he sounds more than fine with it.

"Hopefully he takes full advantage of me and David [Ross] to help him out as much as we can," Montero said. "I'm here for you. Whatever you need. It's not like me when I came up. I didn't have help from anyone else. It was just me. Now he has people. I'm a big fan of Willson."