MESA, Ariz. — It was a compliment as much as anything, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said.
All he said to Sun-Times columnist Steve Greenberg at the Cubs Convention in January was that he expected to be the best catcher in baseball, and that meant being better than the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina and the Giants’ Buster Posey.
The blowback was immediate and viral.
‘‘I heard a lot about that,’’ said Contreras, who was slammed by Cardinals fans — and by Molina — on social media. ‘‘If he feels offended because I took him as an example to get better, I don’t know why. I want to know why he got pissed.’’
Contreras has had a good relationship with Molina since breaking into the majors in 2016 and said he expects to resolve the flap when the teams play April 16-18 at Wrigley Field.
What started it was this comment Jan. 12: ‘‘I used to watch a lot of those guys, but now I’m watching myself because I know that I’m going to
be better than them. That’s my plan. That’s my [mindset].’’
He later added: ‘‘In my mind, I want to be the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.’’
Molina, an eight-time All-Star, responded with an Instagram post that featured a picture of himself, Posey and the Royals’ Salvador Perez at the All-Star Game and the words: ‘‘Respeten los rangos NOVATOS!! Aqui con los q si han probao que son los duros!!’’
Roughly translated, it means: ‘‘Respect the ranks!’’
Contreras later tweeted a clarification on Twitter but never backed away from what he said.
‘‘If I took him as an example, he should be proud of what he has done throughout his career,’’ Contreras said. ‘‘Same with Posey. I named Posey, and he didn’t say anything because he feels proud, probably, that I took him as an example to get better.”
Contreras said he looks forward to clearing the air with Molina.
‘‘Probably throughout the season, we are going to talk about that,’’ Contreras said. ‘‘And he’s probably going to give me some tips, as he always does.
‘‘Yadi’s a great guy. I don’t know why he posted that.’’
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