Cubs fans boo Miguel Montero, but Jake Arrieta invites him for a drink
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They booed Miggy.
A surprise? Really, it could’ve gone either way.
Former Cubs catcher Miguel Montero — he of the grand slam in last year’s National League Championship Series and what proved to be the eventual winning RBI in Game 7 of the World Series — was in the Blue Jays’ lineup Friday as the Cubs won 7-4 in the opener of a three-game weekend series.
And the Wrigley faithful booed him the first few times he came up to bat. By Montero’s fourth plate appearance, it was just a light smattering. But still: Ouch.
Of course, fans were remembering the circumstances surrounding Montero’s controversial exit from the North Side in June. He publicly criticized pitcher Jake Arrieta — who was on the mound Friday and notched his 13th victory — after an ugly defeat in which the Nationals stole seven bases in the first four innings.
“The pitcher doesn’t give me any time,” Montero said then.
That pitcher extended a martini branch — sorry, meant to say an olive branch — to Montero when he came up for his second at-bat against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.
“I asked him if he wanted to grab a drink tonight,” Arrieta said, “so we might do that. He’s one of my favorite guys. It’s a little upsetting to see the way it ended for him here, but it is what it is.”
The Cubs designated Montero for assignment after that Nationals game and traded him to the Blue Jays last month for the proverbial bag of baseballs.
“It wasn’t the nicest way to leave Chicago,” Montero told CSN Chicago’s Kelly Crull before the game. “It’s in the past. It was tough and difficult. It was hard.”
Montero, who said he has apologized to Arrieta, greeted Arrieta with a few words at the plate before the pitcher’s first at-bat.
“I honestly wish I wouldn’t have left because of those reasons,” he said, “[but] I don’t regret anything. It happened. I feel bad for Jake, and that’s why I apologized to him.”
Blue Jays fans arrived — in huge numbers — by car, plane and who knows how else to check out Wrigley Field and the defending World Series champion Cubs. An employee in the Cubs’ ticket office estimated that 10,000 Jays fans were in attendance. It was quite a change of pace, given it’s typically Cubs fans who take over opposing ballparks.
“The Canadians traveled well today,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I love their city. It’s a great spot up there.”
Put a ring on it?
Former Cub Chris Coghlan was supposed to finally get his World Series ring this weekend with the Jays, but he was designated for assignment last weekend and released unconditionally Tuesday.
“Disappointing,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said, “because we were looking forward to seeing him, and he was looking forward to being here.”
Follow me on Twitter @SLGreenberg.