‘That’s a veteran move’: Cubs’ Miguel Amaya impressing with growth behind the plate

Notes: The Cubs scratched Christopher Morel from the lineup Tuesday.

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The Cubs’ Miguel Amaya runs the bases after hitting a home run against the Baltimore Orioles on June 16, 2023,

Cubs catcher Miguel Amaya has been impressing his teammates.

Erin Hooley/AP

After Jameson Taillon and Miguel Amaya’s last game together before the All-Star break — a 3-0 Cubs victory over the Yankees in New York in which Taillon threw eight scoreless innings — the veteran pitcher approached the rookie catcher.

“Dude, that was impressive,” Taillon said.

They were paired together again Tuesday as Taillon allowed three runs and seven hits in 523 innings against the Nationals in his first start back from the break — and the first since his best outing as a Cub.

Amaya, 24, has pretty consistently caught Taillon and Kyle Hendricks in two major-league stints since debuting in early May.

“He was dialed tonight,” Taillon said after the Yankees game. “I feel like just in the short two months [he’s been up here], I’ve seen him more engaged in dugout conversations. He’s coming up to me with ideas. He’s asking me really good questions between innings. What we talked about in the pregame meeting, he’s carrying over to the game.”

Taillon was impressed last week with the level of detail Amaya retained from those meetings and the reads he was making.

“For a young guy to evolve at this level and to take ownership is impressive,” he said.

Amaya’s development took a detour in recent years because of serious injuries — Tommy John surgery and a Lisfranc fracture in his foot.

“[He’s] a young man who has been through some adversity and hadn’t gotten a lot of seasoning in the minor leagues as far as reps and games,” manager David Ross said. “And he’s learning at the big-league level, and he’s seemed very poised and calm within that. It’s been very impressive to see that — his growth and even some of the trips [to the mound] he’s made, the game-calling. His feel for the game seems to be ahead of his time.”

Ross pointed to a specific moment in New York. After Taillon hustled over to cover first base on a ground ball to first baseman Trey Mancini, Amaya paid a visit to the mound to give Taillon extra time to reset.

“That’s a veteran move,” Ross said. “You don’t see young guys doing that.”

Amaya still has room to grow. Controlling the running game stands out as an area where he can do better, which is to be expected less than two years removed from his elbow surgery. But his strong start and commitment to improvement bodes well.

“I take pride in myself learning every single day, being around all these guys,” he said. “I’m just proud of myself to be here and help the team.”

Morel scratched

The Cubs scratched utility player Christopher Morel from Tuesday’s lineup because of a sore neck. Miles Mastrobuoni replaced him at second base.

The injury stretches an already thin middle infield. With shortstop Dansby Swanson (bruised left heel) still on the injured list, Nico Hoerner has moved from second to shortstop and Morel had been playing second.

“If I could give Nico a day [off], I would,” Ross said before the game.

Entering Tuesday, Hoerner was batting .140 in July. Ross has seen the benefits of giving a struggling player a break, which he also did for Mancini earlier in the year. But with Morel out, there’s little opportunity to do that for the right-handed Hoerner when plenty of left-handed pitchers are lined up to face the Cubs.

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