CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon knows Victor Caratini needs to play regularly, so the catcher was optioned to Triple-A Iowa and Chris Gimenez joined the big league team on Saturday."Not playing Caratini enough really bums me out," Maddon said. "It's all about Caratini's development."How to get Caratini playing time
CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon knows Victor Caratini needs to play regularly, so the catcher was optioned to Triple-A Iowa and Chris Gimenez joined the big league team on Saturday.
"Not playing Caratini enough really bums me out," Maddon said. "It's all about Caratini's development."
How to get Caratini playing time has been a debate for the Cubs since Spring Training. With Willson Contreras established as the everyday catcher, Maddon knew it would be a challenge.
Maddon said the move had nothing to do with Gimenez's prior experience catching pitcher Yu Darvish, who was scheduled to start Sunday night against the Giants before being placed on the disabled list on Saturday evening.
Gimenez's connection to Darvish from his days catching the right-hander with the Rangers in 2014 has been reported since the Cubs signed the 35-year-old veteran to a Minor League deal in January. At the time, they were considered one of the frontrunners to sign Darvish, and there was speculation that bringing Gimenez in would sweeten the deal.
However, the Cubs said then that they liked Gimenez for reasons other than his relationship with Darvish. They officially signed Darvish in mid-February.
Just as the Cubs aren't concerned with finding playing time for Gimenez, getting in the lineup isn't his main prerogative while he's in the Majors.
"I'm excited to do whatever the heck they want me to do. I'll be a cheerleader." Gimenez said. "I'm here for moral support as far as I know."
Gimenez hit .224 with no homers and seven RBIs in 36 games with Iowa. He had an opt-out clause in his contract that would have taken effect next Friday had the Cubs not added him to the Major League roster.
Caratini batted .262 with three doubles and four RBIs in 26 games with the Cubs this season.
"I'm sad for Vic because I don't feel like he deserved it," Gimenez said. "I feel like he's done a great job up here."
In addition, the Cubs designated first baseman Efren Navarro for assignment to make room for Gimenez on their 40-man roster.
Navarro, 32, compiled a .298 average with four homers and 27 RBIs in 40 games this year with Iowa. He went 1-for-6 in four games with the Cubs in April.
Matthew Martell** is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.