Cubs

Victor Caratini has turned into a very valuable role player with Cubs

/ by Tony Andracki
Presented By Cubs Insiders
Cubs

Every championship-caliber team needs a handful of role players who step up in big moments.

Victor Caratini sure looks to be one of those guys for the 2018 Cubs.

It was a mild shock when the Cubs opted for the rookie Caratini to be the team's backup catcher coming out of spring training over the veteran Chris Gimenez, who also had familiarity with new free agent signing Yu Darvish.

The 24-year-old Caratini has taken the opportunity and run with it and helped lift the Cubs over the Miami Marlins Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

It was the second straight start for Caratini, who filled in for Anthony Rizzo Monday night at first base and then gave Willson Contreras a break behind the plate Tuesday.

After singling in his first at-bat Tuesday night, Caratini then stood his ground when Marlins outfielder Derek Dietrich gave him a shove on a play at home.

It resulted in a benches clearing incident, but no punches were thrown and Caratini kept his cool.

The Marlins never scored after that, while Caratini drove home the tying run in the sixth inning and then the go-ahead run in the eighth inning on a pair of groundouts.

"It was nice," Rizzo said. "He comes in every day, he works hard, he wants to learn, he asks a lot of questions and he's ready to play. He's gotten a lot more playing time and it's nice. 

"It's not hard to cheer for him."

 

On top of all that, Caratini also caught all nine innings of what morphed into a "bullpen day" for the Cubs as they used seven different pitchers. The end result was 7 shutout innings for the relievers with Caratini calling the pitches.

"He did a wonderful job," Maddon said.

The Cubs manager was singing Caratini's praises before Tuesday's game, talking about how he isn't afraid to play the young switch-hitter all over the diamond and not just as backup catcher. Maddon wouldn't even rule out a stop at third base or even a trip to the outfield.

Caratini has played some third base in the minors (58 games) but has never played outfield and has most of his time at first base (94 games) and catcher (326 games).

Maddon also raved about his quality of at-bats even when he's not getting results.

After Tuesday's game, Caratini is hitting .288 with a .339 on-base percentage and doubled his RBI total with the big night.

"Victor's sharp, man," Maddon said. "When he's not playing, he's studying. He's in [catching coach Mike] Borzello's back pocket all the time. He showed that in spring training; we saw that last year. 

"I mean, the kid is a big-league ballplayer, man. That's no joke. When he does something good out there, please don't be surprised. He's really good. And he's gonna keep getting better. With the appropriate number of at-bats, he's gonna be really interesting."