We haven’t seen much of the other two back-up catcher candidates, Welington Castillo and Max Ramirez, in recent days; just a steady stream of Geovany Soto, and the guy who is going to be his back-up, Koyie Hill.
A big part of the reason Hill will ultimately “win” the job (inasmuch as someone who puts together perhaps the worst Spring in the history of Springs can “win” anything) is because both Castillo and Ramirez have been battling injuries.
There are still four catchers in camp but the Cubs are expected to break with Geovany Soto and backup Koyie Hill on the final 25-man Opening Day roster. Welington Castillo and Max Ramirez have both been injured. They’re insurance in the final week before the regular season opens April 1.
Castillo has been bothered by a sore right index finger, which limits his ability to throw. He was expected to open at Triple-A Iowa; the Cubs want him to get more experience calling games. Ramirez has battled a sore left wrist and if he does well in batting practice on Sunday, he may get in a game. Muskat Ramblings.
While I don’t agree with the Castillo-needs-to-get-regular-starts justification (he could see plenty of starts in the bigs, and he would get the benefit of working with the ML staff and players – and that’s just viewing the decision from Castillo’s development perspective, not even considering the upgrade he represents over Hill), I understand it. He can be optioned to Iowa – and returned at any time – with little harm being done.
As for Ramirez, the injury, and the attending decision not to carry him, are a bit more problematic. The Cubs picked up Ramirez off waivers, and my understanding – readers, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong – is that if he doesn’t make the Cubs’ 25-man roster out of camp, he will have to pass through waivers once again for the Cubs to send him to Iowa. Given, for example, the Astros’ desperate state at catcher, it’s hard to see him making it through.
And, of course, even if Ramirez does make it to Iowa, he and Castillo will have to split starts. One of them will not get “regular” work behind the plate, thus blowing up the primary justification for not carrying one of them as the back-up on the big team. I know this is devolving into a little bit of verbal diarrhea, but I’m annoyed. If the decision was truly derailed by the injuries to Castillo and Ramirez, then the situation sucks.
But I suspect that Hill was always going to be the guy.