Improving Soto will miss spring opener

Improving Soto will miss spring opener

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, sidelined with a strained groin, is improving but isn't expected to be ready by Sunday's Cactus League opener, manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday.

"[The athletic trainers] said he came in and was feeling better," Sveum said. "It's still one of those things where he's a week away from being on the field all day long."

The Cubs have to decide on a backup catcher for Soto this season. Koyie Hill held that job for the last five years, but is now in Cardinals camp.

The candidates include Welington Castillo, who has played just 11 big league games over two seasons; Jason Jaramillo, who played for the Pirates the last three years; Steve Clevenger, a former shortstop who was called up last season for the first time. Other catchers in camp include Minor Leaguers Blake Lalli and Michael Brenly.

"It's probably the first time in camp I've had so many quality catchers," Sveum said. "You have to keep your eye on them to make that decision when we break camp."