Catcher Rene Rivera, claimed off waivers Saturday from the Mets, grew up watching his new team from Puerto Rico.
Rivera, 34, who caught all but the 10th inning of the Cubs’ 6-5 victory Sunday over the Blue Jays, cheered on Ryne Sandberg and Sammy Sosa with his grandfather, a big fan. It’s a nice little story.
You know who else has a nice little Cubs story? Miguel Montero. His involves — no big deal — a grand slam in the National League Championship Series and a single that drove in what proved to be the winning run in Game 7 of the World Series.
The Cubs acquired Rivera (and sent promising youngster Victor Caratini back down to Class AAA Iowa) to add veteran depth at the position while rising star Willson Contreras works his way back from a hamstring injury. Of course, veteran depth is exactly what Montero gave them — until the Cubs designated him for assignment in June one day after he publicly criticized teammate Jake Arrieta.
Montero — labeled “selfish” by Cubs star Anthony Rizzo — soon was traded to Toronto.
“I left in a bad way,” Montero said, “so it kind of hurts.”
Speaking to the Sun-Times before a series finale in which he doubled and homered off Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, Montero weighed in on a variety of topics related to his departure from the team and his weekend return to Wrigley Field.
On his feelings toward his former teammates: “I love all the guys over there, man — all of them, including Rizzo. I’ve got no hard feelings for what he said. Whatever he said, he’s a great player. He’s a good teammate. But it was a little shame that he said that, knowing that I’m not the guy that he said I was. He knows that.”
On being called selfish: “I have a pretty good reputation in my career in the clubhouse. That’s the reason why there were, like, five teams interested when [the Cubs] let me go. They did their homework. They asked other people. If I was really that bad guy they said I was, the teams aren’t interested in bad guys.”
On returning to Wrigley: “It’s been weird. I’m not going to lie: The first game, I was very nervous. For the first three innings, I was very nervous. I was more nervous than my debut in the big leagues.”
On being booed: “I wasn’t really surprised by it. On the other hand, they gave me a lot of love on Twitter. A lot of fans, they didn’t love that. I thanked them all for that.”
Montero said he still hasn’t spoken with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, but he did catch up with general manager Jed Hoyer during batting practice before the series opener Friday.
“Hey, I have no hard feelings with them, with Theo or anybody,” he said. “You can’t live in the past, man.”
Contributing: Gordon Wittenmyer
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