Cubs notes: Maddon says Contreras will start Sunday or Monday
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
Manager Joe Maddon isn’t wasting much time in working top catching prospect Willson Contreras into the starting lineup.
Contreras made his major-league debut Friday in the Cubs’ 6-0 win over the Pirates when he took over for Miguel Montero in the ninth inning. On Saturday, Contreras caught Jason Hammel’s side session.
Maddon said Contreras will start either Sunday against the Pirates or Monday against the Cardinals. Kyle Hendricks will pitch Sunday and John Lackey will face his former team Monday.
“Kyle’s an edge guy,” Maddon said. “You want a catcher that’s going to grab the edges for him really well. That’s where I’m hung up. Lackey’s pitching the next day. Johnny knows what he’s doing out there.”
Before being called up from Class AAA Iowa, Contreras said he watched video of Cubs -pitchers to see how they operate. Maddon has sensed Contreras is comfortable, and Contreras insists he’s ready to go.
“Now I’m here,” he said. “I can’t wait to be on the field and behind the plate.”
Outfielder Jorge Soler, who was put on the 15-day disabled list June 7 with a strained left hamstring, worked with the training staff in the field Saturday. Maddon doesn’t have a timetable for Soler’s return, but he can tell from his interactions with Soler that things are improving.
“He’s smiling a lot. I know that,” Maddon said. “It’s not like, ‘Well, it’s getting better, but it’s not that good.’ I think he’s making good progress.”
Rookie Albert Almora Jr. made the most of his Wrigley Field debut Friday with three hits and two RBI. Fresh off his first big-league road trip, Almora said he is still adjusting to life in the majors.
Besides the level of play, what’s the biggest difference from the minors?
“I think it was the hotels. They were unbelievable,” Almora said. “I could go on and on between the plane rides versus the buses. But we’re here to play baseball. That’s the fun part — playing in front of 40,000 people every night. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Maddon took the stage with Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder on Friday at Cubs -president Theo Epstein’s annual Hot Stove Cool Music event at the Metro. Maddon played tambourine and was surprised to find -former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams playing guitar behind him. Maddon said he wasn’t nervous to “sing” with Vedder.
“I wasn’t even inebriated,” -Maddon said. “I didn’t need any drinks. You normally need some kind of liquid courage to do something like that. I was fine.”
Hammel said he got to have a “heart-to-heart” with Vedder and found himself star-struck and stuttering while speaking with him, despite seeing Pearl Jam 15 times.
Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.