Cubs’ Contreras apologizes for untimely bat flip, quickly atones
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CLEVELAND – A few hours after becoming the second young Cubs player this postseason to flip a bat and pimp a “home run” that didn’t clear the fence, Willson Contreras late Tuesday night became the second to vow to run hard next time.
Contreras sheepishly arrived at second after accelerating only when his ninth-inning drive in Game 1 failed to clear the wall, the Cubs trailing 6-0.
Late that night he tweeted: “I apologize to the fans from both sides. I didn’t mean to disrespect My Team @Cubs and The Game!! I Promise It Won’t Happen Again.”
By Wednesday, Contreras got out of the box hot on a grounder to second baseman Jason Kipnis, allowing him to reach when Kipnis dropped it.
“Today was totally different,” Contreras said, acknowledging he knew even before a teammate approached him Tuesday that he was wrong. “What I did wasn’t good, and I apologized.
“I knew that it was my fault, but it won’t happen again.”
Second baseman Javy Baez did the stand-and-watch thing on another shot to the wall in the Cubs’ second postseason game against the Giants, and he was thrown out at second on the play.
“I guess we’re setting a record for the most guys under 24 years of age,” philosophized manager Joe Maddon, who swore he didn’t see Contreras’ flip and watch. “I want to believe that as a lot of our youngsters gain more experience you’re going to see a lot of that stuff go away.”
Montero to bench
Maddon opted for Contreras, the rookie, behind the plate with Jake Arrieta in Game 2, rather than the better rapport with veteran Miguel Montero, primarily because of the potential for Contreras’ big arm to help contain the Indians’ running game.
One byproduct of that decision is that Montero isn’t likely to get a start during the series.
“With these guys, it’s such a priority stopping the running game,” Maddon said. “Game in progress you might see him out there under different circumstances. But to start the game, you’ll probably see a lot of Willson right now.”
Heyward sits for Jorge Soler
Jason Heyward’s not complaining or making excuses. He’s probably not going to start, either, if the first two games of the Series for the right fielder are any indication.
“He’s a big part of our future, but for right now in a small moment like this, based on what’s going on [with the struggling Heyward] … we have other options and other guys that have done well, too,” said Maddon, who talked with Heyward about his bench role as the Cubs chase their first title in 108 years.
“You’ve always got to be a professional, root your teammates on, understand you don’t make the lineup, and do what you can whenever you get the chance to do it,” Heyward said. “As far as switching roles now at this point in the year, it’s tough to do. There’s no excuse or anything, but it’s tough to come in and push a button when you’re used to being out thee every day and already having some kind of feel for the series and how they’re pitching you or whatever.”
Notes: Maddon said he liked the idea of Soler in right field for his offensive potential against “reverse-split” righty Trevor Bauer. … Maddon said he’ll look for a lower-leverage spot for former closer Hector Rondon to pitch in an effort to “get Ronny sharp” after the right-hander’s rough postseason continued with a Game 1 homer allowed to Roberto Perez. “There’s not a whole lot of time left to do it,” Maddon said. … The Cubs’ six starting players under age 25 set a World Series record. The last time a team started five players that young was 1970 (Cincinnati Reds).