Davis’ 1st start is catching for Darvish
PHOENIX —Taylor Davis waited more than two weeks for his first start at catcher for the Cubs, and he had the challenging assignment Saturday night of handling right-hander Yu Darvish.
But manager Joe Maddon, who indicated Thursday that starter Willson Contreras would get a rest during the Diamondbacks series, stressed his faith in Davis — who hadn’t started a major-league game at catcher since 2017 and had caught only two innings since taking the roster spot of injured backup Victor Caratini on April 12.
“Actually he’s a very good receiver,” Maddon said of Davis, 29, who had caught only eight majorleague innings before Saturday.
“He’s got a great hand and studies well, so he knows exactly what he wants to do. Obviously offensively it’s going to be more difficult. He hasn’t had as many at-bats, but we have a lot confidence in him back there.”
Davis entered with a lifetime .263 average (5-for-19). Center of attention: Jason Heyward made his 12th start of the season in center field despite minimal work at the position in spring training.
“I don’t even try to be surprised,” said Heyward, who played center for much of his youth. “I’ve just got to be ready and do what I can each night.”
Heyward made 20 starts in center last season, but Maddon is finding more ways to keep Heyward’s bat in the lineup, even against left-handed pitchers.
Heyward is the Cubs’ most vocal outfielder, so the switch from right is seamless.
“You’ve got to be in tune with what’s going on and pay attention with each pitch,” Heyward said. “I always talk anyway. In center field, I’m between (outfielders), but we’re always communicating.”
Gone but not forgotten: Daniel Descalso remains popular among his former Diamondbacks teammates, especially for his clutch hitting, which he has displayed in his first four weeks with the Cubs.
“That’s the way he’s always been,” said right-hander Zack Godley, who started against the Cubs on Saturday night.
“He does an unreal job coming off the bench and getting big hits, and if you need him to start a game, he plays good defense. He’s cool to watch.”
Godley vividly remembered Descalso hitting a three-run homer off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss at Dodger Stadium on July 14, 2017.
“Those types of things are what he does well,” Godley said. “I hate that he’s not with us, but it’s awesome to see him doing well.”
Injury update: Left-hander Mike Montgomery’s rehab start at Triple-A Iowa was postponed because of inclement weather and was rescheduled for Sunday as part of a doubleheader.
Double-A Tennessee infielder Nico Hoerner, one of the organization’s top prospects, was placed on the seven-day injured list, retroactive to Wednesday. Hoerner was hit on the left wrist by a pitch against Chattanooga.