Why Maddon, Cubs opted to keep three catchers after Miguel Montero's return

Why Maddon, Cubs opted to keep three catchers after Miguel Montero's return

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.

MLB extends temporary financial support for minor leaguers

MLB extends temporary financial support for minor leaguers

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Major League Baseball has had to work through a number of logistical issues with no games taking place.

The owners and the MLB Players Association worked through a number of details on the major league level last week. Now, they have filtered some decisions down to the minors, as well.

MLB announced on Tuesday that minor league players will continue to be paid through the end of May. All players will continue to receive medical benefits.

Previously, MLB had provided interim support through April 8, which was the original starting date for the minor league season.

Baseball insiders Jeff Passan and Bob Nightengale had some insight as to what this means.

Minor leaguers don’t make big bucks, but this keeps a cash flow going to those players.

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Jon Lester's soccer career and other things to know about Cubs left-hander

Jon Lester's soccer career and other things to know about Cubs left-hander

Jon Lester is the best free agent addition in Cubs history, the guy who joined a last place club and helped push them to perennial contender status. He played a big part in the Cubs snapping their World Series drought, and even at 36 remains a durable, competitive starter.

Here’s a few things you may not know about the Cubs’ left-hander.

1. While playing in a soccer tournament in Italy at the age of 13, an Italian club approached Lester about playing professionally. He turned it down and the Red Sox drafted him five years later.

2. In August 2006, two months after making his MLB debut, Lester was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He underwent chemotherapy in the 2006-07 offseason and returned to the Red Sox in July 2007.

3. Lester’s charity, NVRQT, works to raise awareness and funds to fight pediatric cancer. Lester was the Cubs’ 2019 Robert Clemente Award nominee for his charitable efforts.

4. In 2011, Lester was featured on a wine label produced by Longball Cellars. Proceeds from “CabernAce” benefited the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

5. Lester, an avid golfer, once shot an 81 at Augusta National, according to Golf Digest.

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