Cubs' latest spring training cuts crystalize catching situation

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Tim Stebbins
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How Cubs' latest spring cuts crystalize catching situation originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Welcome to The Show, P.J. Higgins?

The Cubs' catching situation came into crystal clear focus with the club's latest round of spring training cuts. On Friday, they assigned backstop and non-roster invitee José Lobatón to minor league camp.

That puts Higgins, another non-roster invitee, in position to crack the Cubs' Opening Day roster.

The Cubs signed veteran Austin Romine this past offseason to be Willson Contreras' backup. But Romine hasn't played in a spring game since March 6 due to a right knee sprain. He's currently day to day, but each additional day he misses makes it less likely he'll be available for Opening Day. 

Higgins has been in the Cubs' system since 2015. He reached Triple-A Iowa in 2019 and spent last season at the Cubs' alternate site in South Bend. He's a versatile defender, capable of playing first and third base.

"I'm really proud of him," Contreras told reporters in Arizona this week. "He's a hard worker, he’s a nice teammate. He’s always picking somebody’s brain."

Cubs manager David Ross offered additional praise to the 27-year-old and the impression he's made this spring on Friday.

"He's a guy that is quietly paying attention to everything," Ross said. 

"If you ask him questions, he's got real feedback on what he thinks the pitcher’s stuff looked like, what they were trying to do, where the ball actually was moving, whether it was running or sinking or that the cutter didn't quite cut, if it’s flat or had depth.

"He's in a nice spot for a young guy that makes an impression on everybody every time he's out there."

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