CINCINNATI — Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he’s still figuring out how he’ll distribute the catching starts between Victor Caratini and newcomer Jonathan Lucroy until Willson Contreras returns from a hamstring injury next month.
In fact, he still hadn’t made a final decision about who would catch left-hander Jon Lester in the series finale Sunday against the Reds.
The only thing Caratini knows for sure is that this makes twice in a month he has lost out on a chance to be the every-day starter, albeit temporarily.
‘‘Victor’s done well,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘This doesn’t put Victor on the shelf. There’s no reason to run away from Victor right now. I’m just trying to figure it out.’’
Less than four weeks ago, the Cubs traded for Martin Maldonado and put Contreras on the 10-day injured list because of a sore foot. Maldonado and Caratini split the starts until Contreras returned.
This time, with Maldonado since traded to the Astros, Caratini made four starts before the Cubs signed Lucroy.
‘‘He’s definitely going to add a lot to the team,’’ Caratini said. ‘‘But I also feel good about my abilities — and Willson when he gets back.’’
As much as Caratini believes in his ability to be an every-day player, he isn’t complaining — especially with October at stake in the final weeks.
‘‘There’s nothing to be really disappointed about,’’ Caratini said. ‘‘The front office is doing what they need to do to help the team while Willson’s down.’’
If Lucroy holds up well physically and hits, he likely will get most of the playing time until Contreras is back.
‘‘If we do this right, we’ll keep them both in good shape, look for the matchups you feel good about,’’ Maddon said.
Utility player Ben Zobrist made the last of his three starts for high Class A Myrtle Beach, going 0-for-3 with a walk after homering in his first two games there.
After six minor-league games in his efforts to return to big-league form after three months on personal leave, Zobrist has looked good enough that Maddon is sounding more certain he will be part of his plans at the end of the month.
‘‘If he’s playing well — and I’m hearing good things, he’s drawing his walks, too — if he’s doing all that stuff, he’s going to be fine,’’ Maddon said.
Maddon said he looks at Jason Heyward as his lone choice for the regular leadoff role until Zobrist rejoins the team.
‘‘That would be the time to reconsider, based on how he’s doing,’’ Maddon said.
Cishek down, rookie numbers up
Workhorse reliever Steve Cishek finally quit trying to pitch through a sore hip that has been bothering him in recent days and went on the 10-day IL. He was replaced on the roster by right-hander Dillon Maples, who was hit hard in his return to the big leagues Saturday.
Half of the Cubs’ eight relievers are rookies, including right-hander Alec Mills, who was recalled Friday to cover for left-hander Kyle Ryan’s bereavement leave.
Closer Craig Kimbrel (knee) is expected to join the Cubs in Philadelphia and test his sore right knee in a bullpen session. The team says he’s making ‘‘good progress,’’ but it looks unlikely he will be ready to be activated when he’s eligible Wednesday.