Cubs may eye catcher, but Caratini commended

Maddon acknowledges that getting veteran backup 'makes sense,' but manager confident in rookie

Cubs may eye catcher, but Caratini commended

CHICAGO -- Although Willson Contreras most likely would play every day, manager Joe Maddon knows the catcher needs a break now and then. Maddon acknowledged on Monday that the Cubs were looking for another backup catcher before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but he also commended rookie Victor Caratini.

"I really like [Caratini] a lot," Maddon said of the Cubs' No. 9 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. "He's still a young player, and I think he has a great future in the game, offensively and defensively. He's really solid, too.

"We have a couple more days to put it all together," Maddon said of the Deadline. "Of course, that makes sense [to get a veteran backup] -- I can't deny that. I don't know if that will happen or not. That's not denigrating Victor. Victor is at a point in his development that you don't want him sitting around much."

Since he was called up on June 28, Caratini has started three games. When he's not playing, he is on the bench talking to coach Mike Borzello about the pitchers.

"When you get young guys like that, it's tough to watch them sit on the bench," Maddon said.

Worth noting
Hector Rondon threw a 100-mph fastball during his seventh-inning appearance on Sunday night. That's not normal for the right-hander.

"Normal is 95, 96 [mph]," Rondon said. "I think my mechanics and effort help me a lot. I feel so comfortable."

It's taken some time to get there. Rondon had a rough May (7.20 ERA in 11 games), but he has pitched well recently.

"His stuff [Sunday] was as good as I've ever seen him," Maddon said. "... Throw that elite fastball where you want to, and heads up."

But Rondon didn't learn how to reach 100 mph on his pitches from former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman.

"Chapman is a different human," Rondon said.

• Maddon and Jason Heyward talked about the possibility of the outfielder leading off in the second half. On Monday, Heyward did so for the third time. He entered the game batting .313 in July with a .365 on-base percentage, and he was also playing well in right field -- although that's routine for the four-time National League Gold Glove Award winner.

Heyward's great leaping grab

"He's making a stand as being among the leaders on the team," said Maddon, who has seen Heyward high-fiving the bat boys. "You need that unifying force. He's a force multiplier. That's what he does daily."

• White Sox television broadcaster Hawk Harrelson presented Maddon with one of his alarm clocks prior to Monday's Interleague game. Fans draw the line when it comes to who they root for in this intracity series.

"The guy who works in our garage is a White Sox fan, but his daughters are Cubs fans," Maddon said. "He said he could not necessarily wish me luck today. I said, 'I don't want you to. I want you to root for the White Sox.' Even just getting your vehicle in the morning, I was infiltrated and touched by a White Sox fan. He's a good guy. By the time I was driving out, he said, 'Good luck anyways.'"

Kyle Hendricks was activated from the disabled list to start Monday's game against the White Sox, and right-handed reliever Felix Pena was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.