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Catchers Welington Castillo, Steve Clevenger auditioning for next year

Chicago Cubs' DarwBarney left is upended as he forces out Milwaukee Brewers' Rickie Weeks second base throws first base for

Chicago Cubs' Darwin Barney, left, is upended as he forces out Milwaukee Brewers' Rickie Weeks at second base and throws on to first base for a double play on Brewers' Ryan Braun during the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 20, 2012, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

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The facts: 7:10, CSN+, 720-AM.

The starters: Chris Rusin (major-league debut) vs. Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.25 ERA).

Updated: September 22, 2012 6:37AM

MILWAUKEE — The development of Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters? Sure. But an even more important function of these last six weeks involves the future of the Cubs’ catching.

Three weeks into the post-Geovany Soto era, not even the Cubs are sure what they have as rookies Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger hit a critical stretch in their auditions for next year’s starting role.

‘‘The jury’s still out,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘We’ve got quite a few games left to evaluate both of them on the game-calling and all the [other aspects].

‘‘We know the bottom line with Castillo is he’s one of the better throwers in the game already. It’s the other parts of the game that he has to improve upon and get better at, as well as swinging the bat. He’s got the ability to possibly be a prolific hitting catcher.’’

Even though each hits from a different side of the plate, Sveum doesn’t like the idea of a platoon at such an important position.

‘‘I think you always want that headline guy that can catch 120, 125 ballgames,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s part of what we’re doing right now, to evaluate who’s capable as we go into the winter, to know whether we need to go find another one, find depth or are we going to be happy with what we’ve got.’’

Rusin on tap

Left-hander Chris Rusin, who had a 1.85 ERA in his last four starts at Class AAA Iowa, hopes to earn a chance to stick in the Cubs’ September pitching plans when he debuts Tuesday in a spot start.

‘‘I’d like to prove something,’’ said Rusin, who likely is headed back to Iowa, at least until rosters expand in September, after the start.

Sveum, who over the weekend said his rotation plans aren’t locked in for the last six weeks, said Monday he’ll leave his rotation as is for now, including Chris Volstad.


Matt Garza (elbow) still hasn’t been allowed to throw since his ‘‘stress reaction’’ was diagnosed two weeks ago.

He’ll remain shut down at least until a follow-up X-ray and examination Sept. 1, Sveum said.

◆ Left-hander Alex Hinshaw, acquired on waivers from the Padres on Sunday, is expected to join the Cubs’ bullpen Tuesday.

◆ Rusin will make it 16 rookies used by the Cubs this year, including 10 big-league debuts.

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