Cubs send nine out of Major League camp

Chatwood deals in split-squad nightcap; Baez nears return to action

March 14th, 2018

MESA, Ariz. -- Manager Joe Maddon likes what he's seen of the young Cubs in spring camp, including the nine players assigned to Minor League camp Tuesday.
Right-handed pitchers , , and , left-handed pitchers and and infielder were optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Two non-roster invitees were assigned to Minor League camp: infielder and outfielder .
Spring Training information
"There are a lot of good under-the-radar guys here now," Maddon said Tuesday. "There's more there than you think. Check out Bote. ... He's been very impressive. Hannemann, I don't know if he's the best athlete in camp but if he's not, he's real close."

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Injury updates
was held out of the lineups of both of the Cubs' split-squad games Tuesday. Baez had to come out of last Thursday's game because of tightness in his left hamstring. He underwent an MRI and could return to action later this week.
"We're getting close -- he's getting close," Maddon said. "I don't think it'll be much longer. He's doing well, the [athletic] trainers are happy, he's happy. We're being overly cautious right now."
Could Baez return by the end of the week?
"I think that's possible," Maddon said. "If not, it's obviously the beginning of next week. Maybe by the end of this weekend, you might see him."
, who had been ill, returned to the Cubs lineup Tuesday and hit a two-run homer in a 7-5 loss to the Padres.
"To have that much time off and be that on, not everybody can do that," Maddon said.

Reliever , who has been slowed because of a tender left calf, has yet to appear in a game. He's also been feeling ill.
Montgomery starts
In his first spring start Tuesday, lefty Mike Montgomery gave up two runs on five hits over 3 2/3 innings, striking out three against the Padres in a split-squad game.

Nightcap notes
Making his fourth spring start, struck out nine and gave up one hit over five innings in the Cubs' 2-1 split-squad win Tuesday night over the Giants. The right-hander came into the game with three K's in six innings. smacked his second leadoff homer this spring, off the Giants' , and his fifth in Cactus League play, and added a leadoff shot in the fourth.
Between starts, Chatwood had talked about wanting to clean up some things. Everything worked Tuesday night.
"Obviously, I was incorporating more cutters, curveballs and changeups tonight," he said. "I think throughout the year, I need to keep reminding myself about that because it gets everything back to where it needs to be."
• Catcher survived getting hit by a pitch by Bumgarner in the fourth and a collision at home plate with in the Giants' fifth. Caratini stayed in the game to finish the fifth and help Chatwood record his ninth strikeout, and then came out of the game. He has a sore left knee and was listed as day to day.
• The game was played in front of a Cactus League and Sloan Park record crowd of 15,849, topping the previous high of 15,523 set at the Cubs' home park on March 20, 2016.
Camp battle
The only real decision this spring is regarding who will back up Contreras. Chris Gimenez caught on Friday, and on Sunday, the catcher was behind the plate for . Gimenez, who is a non-roster invitee in camp, played for Maddon on the Rays in 2012 and '13.
But Maddon likes Caratini, who made his debut last year.
"If he was on another team that lacked catching depth, that's all you'd be hearing about is Victor Caratini now," Maddon said. "We just happen to have a pretty good starting catcher. This guy is really good, he's not just OK. He's a Major League catcher right now given the opportunity."
Up next
The Cubs travel to Surprise on Wednesday to face the Royals. Alec Mills will get the start. The right-hander made three starts at Triple-A Iowa last season but was bothered by injuries. He did pitch in the Arizona Fall League, making six starts. Jon Lester, the Cubs' Opening Day starter, will stay on schedule by facing the Triple-A Reno team in Scottsdale at 1 p.m. MT.