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Cubs

MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs have already identified Willson Contreras as Jon Lester's personal catcher now that David Ross will be rocking the polo-shirt-and-khakis look as a special assistant in baseball operations.

Manager Joe Maddon didn't hesitate when asked during Tuesday's welcome-to-camp press conference, anointing Contreras as the everyday guy behind the plate and essentially saying Miguel Montero will be a $14 million reserve.

"He'll be the backup catcher to Contreras," Maddon said at the Sloan Park complex. "Willson will get the preponderance of play, and Miggy will be out there. But, again, you never know what's going to happen during the course of a season, whether it's an injury or a performance (issue).

"Coming through spring training, you'll look at probably Willy catching four or five games a week and maybe Miggy one or two. That would be the game plan."

Even if this should be somewhat elementary — Contreras gave the Cubs a huge burst of energy as a rookie last season and shined during the postseason — it still sounded a little forward for Day 1 in Arizona.

Maddon dismissed any personal issues with Montero, a two-time All-Star who's 33 years old and in the final year of his contract. After the World Series parade and Grant Park rally, Montero went on WMVP-AM 1000 and complained about the lack of communication while being stuck in a three-catcher rotation and second-guessed Maddon's bullpen decisions during the playoffs.

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"Listen, I have no problem with Miggy whatsoever," Maddon said. "I encourage our guys to be open-minded. I talk about freedom among the group and how important that is to us.

"I would never discourage our players to say what they think. So we'll sit down and talk about it but continue to move it forward. (But) it's obvious that Willy will get the preponderance of play."

That means working with Lester, the three-time World Series champion with well-documented issues throwing to first base. Explaining how to connect with Lester and manage the yips will be part of Grandpa Rossy's portfolio in Mesa.

"The big thing there is the ability from Willson to be able to handle the running game," Maddon said. "We're going to have David mentor him a little bit regarding the thought, the process, the conversations he's had with Jonny in the past and continue to move it forward from there. We feel really good about it. I think it's a real naturally good matchup with Willson and Jon.

"That's not to say that Miggy's not going to catch him. He may absolutely catch him at some point. But the original game plan going in is going to be for Willson to catch him."