CINCINNATI — The Cubs’ catching depth has quickly dwindled in the past week. The team scratched Yan Gomes from the lineup Tuesday with left oblique tightness, three days after Willson Contreras left a game with right hamstring tightness.
Rookie P.J. Higgins, who was called up Sunday, was scheduled to start at catcher regardless, with Gomes originally serving as the designated hitter. But with Gomes out, Frank Schwindel moved from first base to DH, and Alfonso Rivas slid into the lineup at first.
“We’ve had a long talk with Frank,” Cubs manager David Ross said of the emergency catcher. “Frank’s ready to get behind the dish if we need it.”
Schwindel caught some in the Royals’ farm system, early in his minor-league career. But he hasn’t caught in a game since 2015.
Contreras is nearing a return but likely as a pinch hitter and DH before the Cubs ask him to squat behind the plate.
“I’m feeling good,” Contreras said Tuesday afternoon. “I’m glad I made the decision to come out of the game on Saturday. I’d rather the last two days than a month [out].”
Contreras took batting practice Tuesday — and hit fungoes to Schwindel. Contreras said the team would evaluate him after a post-BP run to determine if he’d be available to pinch hit Tuesday and potentially return to the starting lineup Wednesday as the DH.
Contreras’ injury created an opportunity for Higgins, who had been with the team as a member of the taxi squad in recent weeks.
Higgins had an eventful return to the big-leagues. After his debut season was cut short by a right forearm strain that landed him on the 60-day IL last June, he hit a three-run triple Sunday in his first game back on the roster.
Cubs middle infielders Nico Hoerner (right ankle sprain) and Nick Madrigal (low back strain) went through a full range of baseball activities — hitting, throwing, running, fielding — in a pregame workout Tuesday.
While Ross said on Monday that Hoerner was “close” to a return, Madrigal is expected to go on a rehab assignment.
Cubs reliever Michael Rucker (turf toe) is progressing on a throwing program.
Cubs infielder David Bote (left shoulder surgery) and outfielder Clint Frazier (appendectomy) were scheduled to play a full game Tuesday with Triple-A Iowa.
Frazier is eligible to return from the 10-day IL whenever the Cubs decide to activate him, but Bote, on the 60-day IL, can’t return for another couple weeks.
Before the first pitch, the Reds presented Cubs lefty Wade Miley with their most outstanding pitcher award for 2021.
“Obviously, I’m very honored to get something like this,” Miley told the Sun-Times. “Anytime you want any kind of reward, as long as it’s not for being a bad person, it’s good, right? And I’ve got a lot of good memories here.”