MILWAUKEE – Cubs manager David Ross and catcher Willson Contreras couldn’t help but shake their heads as they walked off the field Tuesday. Jose Lobaton had just taken a tumble on the last play of the game, trying to beat out a ground ball, and was headed to get X-rays on his shoulder.
“Another backup catcher,” Ross said Wednesday, reflecting on the moment.
The Cubs on Wednesday selected catcher Taylor Gushue from Triple-A Iowa and placed Lobaton on the 60-day IL with a right shoulder sprain. Gushue is the fifth backup catcher the Cubs have carried this season.
Austin Romine played just six games for the Cubs, coming off a Spring Training knee injury, before landing on the injured list with a left wrist sprain. The Cubs designated Tony Wolters for assignment in mid-May, in favor of rookie P.J. Higgins. Last week, Higgins elected to undergo season-ending surgery to repair his right forearm flexor tendon. Now Lobaton.
Wolters, who cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa, could have been another option to replace Lobaton. But the Cubs are playing two players down, with utility man Kris Bryant (right side soreness) and first baseman Anthony Rizzo (back tightness) out of the lineup, and have run into pinch-hitting depth issues this series.
“Right now, with KB and Rizz not knowing their status on a daily basis,” Ross said, “the bat probably was more important to me.”
Gushue, a switch-hitter, was batting .272 with five home runs in Triple-A this season. His latest homer came on Tuesday. He also doubled in that game.
“Good attitude, good at-bat,” Ross said of Gushue. “Probably offense over defense a little bit, but he's played some first. That gives us some flexibility in moving things around in the game. By I really liked the left-handed swing."
Gushue's defensive versatility paid dividends on Wednesday when Patrick Wisdom left the game after a second-inning collision. Gushue, making his MLB debut, replaced him at first base.