Joe Maddon loves bucking convention.

Whether it's forgoing batting practice or hitting the pitcher eighth, the Cubs manager doesn't play anything "by the book." 

So does it surprise anybody that he wanted to keep three catchers with Miguel Montero's return from the disabled list?

Instead of sending backup catcher Tim Federowicz back down to the minors, the Cubs sent outfielder Ryan Kalish out by designating him for assignment

The Cubs were already one bench spot short because of the decision to carry 13 pitchers, so another catcher on the roster essentially reduces the bench players to Javy Baez and Tommy La Stella (as of Saturday's starting lineup) plus that extra catcher.

Maddon likes the flexibility three catchers provides him, no matter how unconventional it may be.

"It gives us more freedom to do things in the latter part of the game," Maddon said. "You've seen us pull catchers early for different maneuvers and then, when you're going with just one guy into extra innings, it's never comfortable.

"But 'Fed' has kinda forced our hand to do this because he's played so well and he's looked so good. So that's how we chose to do it. It can change, obviously. But for right now, we thought it was the right thing to do."

 

Maddon has essentially had three catchers on the roster for most of his tenure as Cubs manager.

The Cubs broke camp last season with Welington Castillo joining Montero and David Ross on the 25-man roster before Castillo was traded May 19.

After Montero returned from a thumb injury last August, the Cubs moved Kyle Schwarber to the outfield, though still had him get some time behind the plate.

This season, the Cubs' plan was to roll with Schwarber, Montero and Ross (with Schwarber obviously playing a bunch in left field) before Schwarber's season-ending knee injury in the third game of the season.

Ross got the start Friday against Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano and figures to be behind the dish again Sunday with Jon Lester pitching. 

Montero got the call Saturday against Pittsburgh southpaw Jeff Locke.

The Cubs could also get outfielder Matt Szczur (hamstring) back off the disabled list early in the coming week. 

Maddon said Szczur has been doing really well, working in the weight room. The young outfielder also took batting practice before Friday's game and the Cubs are encouraged with his progress.

When Szczur returns, Federowicz figures to be the odd man out on the 25-man roster, but who knows? Maybe that's just simply too conventional for Maddon's Cubs.