Victor Caratini might finally be in the majors to stay as Cubs make backup-catcher swap


The Cubs have always liked Victor Caratini. And now maybe he's finally in the majors to stay.

Of course, anything can happen from here on out, but Caratini was brought back from Triple-A Iowa ahead of Wednesday's game. With Chris Gimenez designated for assignment, perhaps this is the signal that Caratini — who has often seemed big league ready — will be the Cubs' backup catcher for the remainder of this season and beyond.

Caratini was sent down in favor of the veteran Gimenez back on May 25, after he hit .262 in his first 26 games of the season. In 32 games at Iowa, he had tons of offensive success, slashing .313/.409/.478 with 11 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs.

That all seems quite preferable to the four hits Gimenez managed in his 12 games with the major league club.

It's not the first time it's seemed Caratini was going to permanently slide in behind Willson Contreras on the Cubs' catching depth chart. Last year, he got a brief shot before the team acquired Alex Avila. This season, he made the Opening Day roster, only to be replaced by Gimenez a month and a half into the campaign.

Caratini has taken it all in stride, and he's just happy to be back in the bigs.

"It was a little tough at the beginning, but I just decided to give it 100 percent and try to get back up to the big leagues as soon as possible," Caratini said through a team interpreter Wednesday. "I feel really good right now. I got a lot of playing time down in Iowa, and I'm ready to go and I feel good.

"I'm here to establish myself and try to be here as long as I possibly can."

The Cubs like not only what he can do with the bat and what he can do behind the plate, they also love his versatility. Caratini was in the starting lineup on his first day back, spelling Anthony Rizzo at first base. He even played a game at third base with Iowa this season.

"Victor's been doing really well," manager Joe Maddon said. "Victor also provides the stability at first base that you like, too. The bat. And when we put him back behind the plate, we like a lot how Victor catches. Beyond that, the switch-hitting ability and hitting well.

"We knew that in spring training it was going to be kind of a back-and-forth thing, and that's how it's turned out."

The Cubs figure to have no question marks at the starting-catcher position for years to come with Contreras a star in the making behind the plate. But perhaps the question marks are drying up at the backup-catcher position, too, with Caratini maybe finally up for good.

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