Fate adds injury to insult for Willson Contreras
The Cubs catcher quickly moved past his ejection Friday, but left Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks in the third inning with right hamstring tightness. “Definitely something going on. We’ll find out how extensive,” manager David Ross said.
At 30, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras is as sensible as he is emotional. A day after getting ejected for arguing a called third strike against the Diamondbacks, Contreras was so over it he adamantly refused to discuss the ejection.
“That will stay in the past,” Contreras said prior to Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. “The was yesterday. I will not share anything today. I did what I did yesterday and today I’m looking forward to having a good game. I’m not going to distract my team with what happened yesterday. I already talked to them and everything’s fine.”
Contreras re-focused Saturday against the Diamondbacks, but his luck wasn’t any better. He singled and stole second base in the third inning, but had to leave the game with tightness in his right hamstring.
“Just going to call it a hamstring strain and continue to get him checked out,” manager David Ross said after the Cubs’ 7-6 loss in 10 innings. “Definitely was some tightness and he wanted to be precautionary — he’s had some lower-half injuries. Definitely something going on. We’ll find out how extensive.
The injury was just another frustration for Contreras coming after his ejection Friday. It was the sixth ejection of his career, but the third in his last 74 games. He didn’t deny that losing games is a factor. The Cubs are 86-114 (.430) over the last two seasons. They were 364-280 (.565) in the previous four seasons since Contreras was called up in June of 2016.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of times that happens,” Contreras said. But we cannot focus on frustration. We cannot focus on negativity. The only thing we can control is how we … come today and play hard and do the best we can to beat [the Diamondbacks].”
Cubs manager David Ross, a catcher in 805 big-league games in his 15-year career, knows the frustration Contreras was feeling and didn’t blame him for letting it boil over this time.
“Sometimes you just lose your cool. It’s happened to everybody,” Ross said. “I know that sleeping on it and coming in the next day, you’re just back to work — we do this every single day. I think moving on from it … is what players do. That’s good that Willson’s in that frame of mind. He’s an emotional player and we love him for that.”
Contreras said his contract situation with the Cubs is not a source of his frustration. Contreras, who will be a free agent after this season, is open to extension discussions with the Cubs. But he also could be a valuable trade-deadline chip for the rebuilding Cubs.
“I’m really good where I am right now,” Contreras said when asked about the anxiety some Cub fans are feeling over his future with the team. “I know the fans are kind of mad because of everything that’s happened. But I’m really at peace with my mind, really at peace with myself and whatever comes, I’ll be good with it. I have done a lot for this team and that’s one thing that helps me keep my head up.
Contreras, an All-Star in 2018 and 2019, is hitting .258 with five home runs, 14 RBIs, a .382 on base percentage and .840 OPS.
Contreras figures his payday will come. But the timing might not be right with the rebuilding Cubs. They came in 15-23 with no real direction in sight. Most of the players on the Cubs’ next playoff team likely are in the minors. Contreras was diplomatic when asked about the direction of the team in the rebuild.
“That’s a good question for the president and the GM,” he said. “I’m here to play baseball with what they put on the field. Of course, they all are great guys. They’re willing to listen, willing to learn and grow and that’s part of myself helping them and guiding them the best way I can.”