Chicago Cubs: Here’s to a happy, healthy hamate bone in the near future
Twenty-five-year-old Victor Caratini has seen action with the big league Cubs in each of the last three seasons, serving as the primary backup to Contreras last season (after relinquishing the role to Chris Gimenez for a short stint). While seen as something of an on-the-job learner because of his age and also the Cubs’ lack of a veteran back-up, Caratini had his struggles in 2018, to the tune of a .232/.293/.304 slash line. Even though he wasn’t alone in his offensive struggles in 2018, many assumed the Cubs would be looking for veteran catcher depth in 2019.
Fast-forward to Spring Training 2019 and, yet again, the Cubs decided to go with Caratini as the backup. While there may have been some financial considerations coupled with the faith in Caratini as the back-up, Chicago’s decision to go with Caratini as backup paid early dividends, with the switch-hitting catcher mashing in the early going to a slash line of .571/.647/1.000. Granted, those are ridiculously unsustainable numbers; but, the hot start gave Cubs’ fans (and probably the front office) giddy thoughts of a young catching tandem like no other in baseball.
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Unfortunately, Caratini suffered a broken left hamate bone injury on April 11 (in the same at-bat he doubled in an insurance run in a win against Pittsburgh) and left the Cubs with one feasible option behind the dish in Willson Contreras. Even though Contreras has made all but two starts since the injury, off-days and a convenient schedule have allowed the Cubs to keep him fresh (not to mention the aforementioned Davis, who tagged in for those two starts he didn’t make).
Once Caratini is fully healthy and cleared to come back (which could be another month still), everyone will get the chance to see if “Contreratini” can continue its progress and scorching production, as Caratini will no doubt supplant Davis once ready (unless, of course, Davis wants to keep hitting grannies every game – then maybe there’s a different conversation to be had… not likely, though).
Perhaps, as he did last year and this spring (before he got hurt), Caratini will continue working with Cole Hamels as a de facto personal catcher for the big lefty, yielding the majority of the starts to one of the best catchers in all of baseball.