Chicago Cubs: Victor Caratini injury puts team in a bind behind the dish

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

With Victor Caratini sidelined for the better part of the next two months, the Chicago Cubs must find a suitable solution to back up Willson Contreras.

For most of the offseason, I, like many others, pushed for the Chicago Cubs to add a veteran catcher to shore things up behind the dish. Willson Contreras, of course, is the undisputed primary backstop – but a heavy workload proved costly for him down the stretch last year – further evidence of the team’s need for a reliable answer at backup catcher.

But, instead, in a theme that permeated throughout pretty much all of Chicago’s decisions, they decided to stick with what they had in Victor Caratini. The switch-hitting 25-year-old is serviceable behind the dish but doesn’t bring the experience of a guy like Rene Rivera, Alex Avila, Miguel Montero or David Ross.

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To his credit, Caratini kept his head down and he kept working as camp opened in Arizona. In Cactus League play, he put up a scorching .349/.420/.581 line in 50 plate appearances, securing his spot on the 25-man roster. 

His hot start carried into the first two weeks of the regular season, too. In 17 plate appearances this year, Caratini boasts a .571/.647/1.000 line – but none of that matters now. At least not for the next four to six weeks.

In his final at-bat on Thursday night, in which he delivered a run-scoring double against Francisco Liriano, Caratini broke the hamate bone in his left hand, putting his 2019 season on hold and sending him to the injured list.

"“It’s not easy,” Caratini said after the game. “Definitely frustrating, especially starting out the season the way I was hoping to. Unfortunately, those are things I just can’t control. But, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to bounce back.”"

After placing Caratini on the injured list, the team called up catcher Taylor Davis from Triple-A Iowa. Davis, who has a grand total of just 19 big league plate appearances under his belt, is the answer – at least in the interim. But given the pitching staff’s struggles early this season, will Chicago trust him handling duties behind the plate?

If not, and he’s just a guy to give the Cubs’ main catcher a blow when absolutely necessary, we could be staring at the same problem that derailed Contreras’ 2018 season. Davis, at least as this is being written, is the only other backstop on the team’s 40-man roster.

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Don’t be surprised if Chicago pulls the trigger to add a guy to help lighten the load on Contreras as Caratini recovers from his surgery. Davis put together an impressive spring, but I still don’t know if he’ll be able to bring what the team needs to the diamond while standing in for the team’s injured backstop.