By Bruce Levine-

GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — The hard work that Cubs catcher Welington Castillo has put in this offseason and in spring training will have little to do with where he ends up playing this season. After two years as the primary catcher on the club, Castillo finds himself as the third catcher on a team that can only carry two catchers for practical purposes. The Cubs traded for Miguel Montero and signed David Ross in the offseason.

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Last year, Castillo threw out 32 percent of would-be base stealers and hit a career-high 13 home runs. However, Cubs officials weren’t convinced that he was the man to put down the right fingers and set up hitters in the way they envisioned a championship catcher doing the job.

In December, Castillo’s position as Chicago’s top catcher was taken away when the Cubs acquired Miguel Montero from the Diamondbacks. After the signing of David Ross as the backup catcher in late December, it was then apparent that Castillo, barring an injury to the top two, would be traded sometime down the line.

“It will hurt me to leave here,” Castillo said Tuesday as he continues to compete in spring training. “This is the team I signed with and learned how to play with. I want to win with these guys and for the Cub fans. What can I do? I don’t know what will happen, but I know I can play and help somebody win.”

Castillo had his first experience catching team ace Jon Lester on Monday. Lester was bombed out of his start, giving up six runs in 3 1/3 innings. Lester was complimentary of Castillo for his hard work but admitted it is a process to work with a different catcher. Ross will be Lester’s personal catcher this season.

“Bottom line is, I have to execute pitches regardless of who is catching,” Lester said.

Despite the struggles, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was impressed with the dynamic between the battery mates.

“I was so proud of the two of them,” said Maddon, who overheard Castillo apologize to Lester for dropping a couple of pitches and calling a wrong pitch. “Jon would not let Weli take any blame for any of his shortcomings yesterday. If I had a tape recorder, I would have live taped it and played it back for the whole team. It was so refreshing and so awesome. Both were so accountable and got it.”

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The 28-year-old Castillo loves the talent he sees coming through the Cubs system and the additions that were made other than behind the plate.

“We have a lot of talent,” he said. “This is going to be a great team, but who knows if I will be here. Not my call.”

Maddon must look at the possibility of having three catchers because Castillo can’t be sent back to the minor leagues due to his service time, but the Cubs’ ideal roster construction would be to only have two catchers.

“It is difficult,” Maddon said. “You would have to have a lot of versatile players in the rest of your lineup to carry three. We have reasons to get some of the guys out like Montero to save there energy. Weli is a great thrower and would be valuable to help protect leads. He is a premier thrower, one of the best in the game. There is always the threat of injury. What is one of the most difficult spots in all of baseball? Catching is among the most difficult. I am not saying he is on the team right now (when the season starts); I am not trying to infer that. (I’m saying) when we won with the Angels in 2002, we played with three catchers.”

Maddon added another line that could be an advertisement to the other teams or a cautious reminder in house.

“I know if you are trying to find a Welington Castillo in mid-April, you are not going to find him unless you got him,” Maddon speculated.

Likely trade partners for Castillo are the Phillies and Diamondbacks. Top Phillies talent scout Charlie Kerfeld was in attendance at the game Castillo caught Monday.

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Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.