Willson Contreras is facing a two-game suspension from Major League Baseball for his actions Friday at Wrigley Field.
Contreras filed an appeal and he is in the lineup Saturday for an important game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Depending on how long the MLB takes to process the appeal, Contreras may also be able to play in Sunday's game.
"We'll just wait for the appeal to work its way through," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We haven't decided anything beyond that. We'll abide by that, try to figure it out and make the best of it."
The young catcher was thrown out of Friday's game in the fifth inning after he and John Lackey exploded on home plate umpire Jordan Baker following a blown strike three call.
Immediately after the call, Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez lined an RBI single to right center to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead.
As Lackey ran in to cover home on the play, he was thrown out. Contreras was thrown out a few seconds later and slammed his catcher's mask down in frustration. The mask bounced and hit Baker, which Contreras insisted was accidental and apologized for after the game.
Does it help that Contreras was contrite about the incident after the game?
"I would hope so," Maddon said. "He was. Listen, he's a wonderful young man. He is emotional. We're all working on attempting to help him curb that a bit. But you don't want to take it all away either. That's a big part of why he's so good. That was a little bit difficult yesterday; I understand that. He does play with his hair on fire."
It was that mask incident that weighed heavily on the MLB's decision to suspend Contreras. He was also fined an undisclosed amount.
Lackey only received a fine and did not make contact with Baker at all.
Maddon and the Cubs are trying to reign in Contreras' emotional style a bit, but they also love the passion in which he plays the game, so they're not trying to go too far in the other direction and lose what makes him so good as a ballplayer. But moving forward, the Cubs know it's important Contreras picks his spots, especially given how important the relationship between catcher and home plate umpire is.
"You're a catcher man, you're working in front of these guys all the time," Maddon said. "Listen, I really believe you're gonna see a nice progression of him. He's still gonna get upset at times. But you're still gonna see a nice progression of him not go from 0-to-60 like that.
"Like I said though, there's a part of it I do like. Just the fact that he does play with that emotion, we love that. But there's a way to curb that a bit. I think as he gets older, he'll do that."
Maddon admitted Friday was a learning experience for the dynamic backstop, but the Cubs manager also made sure to point out Contreras' upbringing in Venezuela and how he wasn't playing baseball in America full-time until 2011.
"We didn't come from where he came from, either," Maddon said. "What's going on in that country right now, it's a different method. To walk a mile — even a hundred feet, a hundred yards in his shoes — I've never done that. So I think it's my responsibilty, our responsibility to continue to talk to him to explain why it's probably a better method to not.
"To still be able to play with that kind of passion and enthusiasm, but when it comes to that moment, let the breathing part get away, walk away, turn your back. Those kinds of things are the kinds of things we're gonna have to get incorporated over the next several years. But, I love his passion. I love his emotion. I love all that stuff. Just with the maturation process, you'll see it come back a little bit."
Are Maddon and the Cubs coaches trying to corral Lackey's temper at all?
"That's impossible," Maddon said. "Willson's in his early 20s. Johnny's almost 40. He's a dad with kids. I would never tell him what to do."