For Cubs’ Willson Contreras, it’s straight from All-Star ‘dream come true’ to trade watch
“To be honest,” Contreras said, “I don’t feel like this is going to be my last time with a Cubs uniform.”
LOS ANGELES — By now, everybody knows there’s a lot of love between Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and his baby brother, Braves catcher William Contreras. But there’s also a significant age gap. So when Willson, 30, started behind the plate and hit sixth in the order for the National League in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, with William, 24, at designated hitter and batting seventh, it was the first time they’d ever played in a real game as teammates.
And their parents, big brother Willmer — double “L’s,” of course — and Willmer’s wife and daughter were all at Dodger Stadium to enjoy it, too. From life in Venezuela to all this? Magical.
“I think this is once in a lifetime,” the Cubs star said. “This is one experience that we can die and we never forget. It’s amazing for me and my family. We’re all real proud of everything that we’ve done together. Hopefully, we can keep that coming. Hopefully, it’s not only one, and we get to spend more All-Star Games together.”
It would’ve been something else if the Contrerases had collaborated on a run-scoring rally. Back-to-back hits to get on base at the same time would’ve been its own major thrill. As it turned out, Willson went down swinging to end the first inning, William went down looking to begin the bottom of the second and some guy named Albert Pujols pinch-hit for William next time around.
OK, so it wasn’t made for Hollywood in every conceivable way. Nobody’s complaining.
“Right now, I’d say I’m really proud,” Willson said. “A lot of times you guys asked me about it, I found myself speechless because this kind of moment doesn’t have, like, a specific word to describe what I feel. One thing I know for sure is we’re blessed to be here, and we’re going to keep working hard doing things we need to do to keep coming to All-Star Games.”
It was All-Star Game No. 3 for Willson and a hard-to-see-coming first for his brother, who has played in only 102 major-league games, is hitting .260 with 11 home runs for the defending world champs and made it into the starting lineup because elected starting DH Bryce Harper is injured.
The Contrerases are the fifth pair of brothers to play together in the Midsummer Classic, following Mort and Walker Cooper in 1942 and ’43, Dixie and Harry Walker in 1947, Joe and Dom DiMaggio in 1949, and Roberto and Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1991 and ’92. The Alomars hit back-to-back for the American League in the first of those years.
The elder Contreras said their parents “deserve this more than [we] do.”
“I’ll always be thankful with Mom, with Dad because they always did everything they could to raise three kids together, and they did a great job,” he said. “I’m blessed to have Mom and Dad together, and to have them here is just even better.”
Their best advice?
“You never give up,” he said. “That’s the thing they always told me. No matter what the situation is, you always have to find a way to keep going forward and never give up. That’s something I appreciate.”
Even though all of baseball expects he’ll be traded by baseball’s Aug. 2 deadline, Willson isn’t giving up on remaining with the organization that drafted him as an amateur free agent in 2009, when he was 17 and in Venezuela.
“If I start thinking deeply, I can get emotional about it,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t feel like this is going to be my last time with a Cubs uniform. I don’t know why. I haven’t had talks with the [front office]; I haven’t had anything. It’s just a feeling that I have that this is not going to be my last [All-Star Game] with the Cubs. It is something that I’ve been feeling throughout the year.
“The moments that I’ve had in Chicago — life and everything that I’ve experienced there — are just amazing. No matter what the future holds, no matter what the outcome is, I will always feel that I will always be able to come back to Chicago and play there or even live there. Who doesn’t love Chicago, right?”
Leaving Chicago wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen to him.
“It could be a lot of fun,” he said of playing elsewhere, whenever that time comes.
And maybe, just maybe, he’ll get to play with his brother for real one day. Keep an eye on that one, Hollywood.