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Cubs catcher Victor Caratini’s ‘incredible’ recovery from hand surgery

Caratini

The Cubs aren’t ready to say catcher Victor Caratini will be ready to return from the injured list by this weekend’s showdown with the Brewers.

But only three weeks after surgery to remove the broken hook of the hamate bone from the base of his left hand, he’s swinging the bat without restrictions, and his timeline is just a matter of enough minor-league rehab at-bats.

“Incredible,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I’m not a doubting Thomas, but I saw the BP — my God. It was like normal. There was nothing being held back. There was no grimace, no holding back, no nothing. It’s pretty amazing how quickly he’s come back.”

That was the batting-practice session before Caratini opened a rehab assignment Monday at Class A South Bend, where he caught the first four innings of a no-hitter and doubled in two at-bats. He added a run-scoring single in his second at-bat Tuesday at South Bend.

Willson Contreras’ backup was 8-for-14 with four extra-base hits and three walks when he got hurt.

Entering Tuesday, Cubs catchers, including Taylor Davis, led the majors at the position in batting (.330), home runs (11), RBI (31), on-base percentage (.449) and OPS (1.155).

Closer problem?

Maddon shrugged off Pedro Strop’s three-walk ninth and blown save Monday as ‘‘an anomaly moment.’’ It was the Cubs’ fifth blown save in 11 chances as they try to cover for the absence of closer Brandon Morrow (elbow).

“In the meantime, [the focus is] getting Carl [Edwards Jr.] back in the mix [this week] with a good [Steve] Cishek and a good [Brad] Brach and all the other guys out there,” Maddon said.

“Strop has been so good. And that stuff’s going to happen.

“There’s a lot of that going on, the walking hitters late — and [with] good pitchers. I don’t know what’s going on. There’s homers going everywhere, and there’s late-inning walks. Maybe there’s late-inning walks because there’s homers going everywhere. But it’s really slightly confusing.”

No sixth sense

With left-hander Mike Montgomery’s return from a lat injury imminent, Maddon said the Cubs have not discussed a possible sixth starter.

“I don’t think these guys really need it yet,” said Maddon, who added that he’d more likely look to do something like that for a turn or two in the second half of the season. “I think they would like to get into a regular slot without the extra days, too.”

Montgomery, the staff’s swingman who pitched six strong innings in his last rehab start, would be available to pitch Wednesday, and Maddon said he’s ready.

Barring a trade or another injury on the roster, the Cubs are expected to add him to the bullpen by Friday’s series opener against the Brewers unless they have him make one more rehab start.

This and that

Ben Zobrist, who reached base five times and scored three times the previous two nights, was a late scratch from the lineup for “personal reasons,” the team said.

Kyle Schwarber took over for Zobrist in left field and in the No. 8 spot in the lineup.

Schwarber’s two-base error on Curtis Granderson’s line drive in the third inning eventually cost the Cubs two unearned runs. Martin Prado followed with a run-scoring double, and — one out later — Jorge Alfaro lined an RBI single off shortstop Javy Baez’s glove.

That gave the Marlins a 2-1 lead.

—- Despite returning to the field as a pinch hitter Monday night, infielder Daniel Descalso is not ready to return to the lineup, Maddon said before Tuesday’s game. Descalso remains day-to-day.