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Cubs claim catcher Rivera off waivers

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- The Cubs added depth at catcher on Saturday when they claimed Rene Rivera off waivers from the Mets.

Rivera, 34, has played with the Mariners, Twins, Padres, Rays and Mets, and he is a career .215 hitter. But what Cubs manager Joe Maddon likes is the catcher's defense.

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CHICAGO -- The Cubs added depth at catcher on Saturday when they claimed Rene Rivera off waivers from the Mets.

Rivera, 34, has played with the Mariners, Twins, Padres, Rays and Mets, and he is a career .215 hitter. But what Cubs manager Joe Maddon likes is the catcher's defense.

View Full Game Coverage

"He's a very good defensive player, very good reputation, and he's got some pop, too," Maddon said. "That veteran presence -- the depth it provides is all good stuff.

"You can't have enough pitching. You can't have enough experience depth-wise at [catcher]."

The Cubs acquired Alex Avila at the Trade Deadline from the Tigers, and he has played a much larger role after Willson Contreras strained his right hamstring on Aug. 9. Contreras was expected to miss at least four weeks, and the Cubs did promote Victor Caratini from Triple-A Iowa, but Rivera will provide more experience.

Caratini's timing has been strange. He hit his first big league home run on July 30, then was sent back to Iowa on Aug. 1. On Friday, he went 3-for-3 with a walk and expertly handled Jake Arrieta in a win over the Blue Jays.

Video: CHC@MIL: Caratini hits his first Major League homer

"I've enjoyed watching his receiving and blocking," Maddon said of the rookie. "The pitchers have been very happy with him."

Maddon admires that at the end of the inning, Caratini likes to walk off the field with the pitcher to talk.

"He's very aware of building relationships with the pitchers, which I like, and it seems like the pitchers are into him, too," Maddon said. "He has a great future in this game."

Caratini will stay until Rivera joins the team, which could be Sunday in Chicago or Tuesday in Cincinnati.

Worth noting
Mike Montgomery, who returns to the Cubs' rotation on Wednesday against the Reds to sub for Jon Lester, was in the Rays' system when Maddon was managing. Maddon described the left-hander as a "young colt" at that time and said he was a little awkward in what he was doing. That was in 2012-15. There's been a big change.

"He's more confident; his command has gotten better," Maddon said of Montgomery. "All these little things are trending in the right direction. It's just maturity. He wasn't ready for it at that time in Tampa Bay, he wasn't ready to be in the big leagues yet. ... He's definitely on the right track now. I see him as a very productive Major League starter."

• Maddon has been keeping an eye on the scoreboard and the tight National League Central race all season. He's hoping the Cubs players are aware that they can't simply flip a switch to get on track.

"I don't want us to be switch-flippers," Maddon said. "I believe in the dimmer switch, but only utilizing that in the offseason. I don't like on-and-off switches at all. I've often warned myself of that, because the moment you turn that sucker off, it's hard to turn it back on. Use the dimmer switch in the offseason, but during the season, keep that sucker on. We have to get that consistency."

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.

Chicago Cubs, Rene Rivera