Jaramillo looking to fill backup-catcher void

Jaramillo looking to fill backup-catcher void

Jaramillo looking to fill backup-catcher void
MESA, Ariz. -- For the last three seasons, Koyie Hill has been the Cubs' backup catcher. This spring, Hill is in the Cardinals' camp and the Cubs are looking for someone else.

There are six catchers in Chicago's spring camp, including starter Geovany Soto, and the fight for the backup job appears to be a battle between Welington Castillo, Jason Jaramillo and Steve Clevenger.

"I think it's an open competition, especially since the only one I've seen play in person is Jaramillo, when he was with the Pirates," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday. "It's great competition, and they all have a lot of great attributes to bring to a team. It'll be an interesting fight."

Jaramillo signed a Minor League contract with the Cubs on Jan. 18 after spending the last three seasons with the Pirates.

"I talked to a few teams and had the option to pick where I was going," Jaramillo said Tuesday. "Getting the chance to talk to Theo [Epstein] and Dale, I liked the opportunity here. I understand there's no guarantees. It's not something I'm not accustomed to. I battled my way for three years in Pittsburgh. The competition is nothing new to me. I'm happy to be here, they said it's a good opportunity. Everything I've seen so far -- the staff, the players -- it's really exciting. I'm really excited to be here."

Jaramillo, originally drafted by the Phillies, appeared in 119 games over three seasons with the Pirates. He is very familiar with Cubs pitcher Paul Maholm, who signed as a free agent after coming up in the Pirates system.

Besides having at least one friendly face in Maholm, Jaramillo was looking forward to working with his "uncle," hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. The two actually are not related, but Jason jokes that they must have some connection.

"It's another plus [to work with Jaramillo]," Jason said of the hitting coach. "Defensively, I feel I bring a lot to the table. I understand the role and I just want to take it one day at a time. I know how that sounds, but I have to take that mentality."