Miguel Montero insisted last week that he could play through a left sprained thumb and sure enough the Cubs have activated the veteran catcher from the disabled list one day after he hit a grand slam at Double-A.
Montero has been out since July 11 and returns after just four minor-league rehab games, but how much action he’ll see behind the plate is unclear because of rookie phenom Kyle Schwarber’s emergence in his absence.
Schwarber, who came into the season as one of the top 20 prospects in baseball and crushed Double-A and Triple-A pitching before being called up, has hit .342 with six homers and a 1.061 OPS in 25 games for the Cubs.
Schwarber’s defense behind the plate is considered raw and the Cubs have given him some time in left field to keep his bat in the lineup, but it seems clear that Montero (and veteran backup David Ross) will see fewer starts behind the plate than they did before Schwarber’s arrival.
Montero is owed $14 million in both 2016 and 2017, and while his .729 OPS this season and .761 career OPS can’t compare to Schwarber’s offensive potential it’s above-average production for a catcher.