Dave Martinez

Miguel Montero signs with team that stole seven bases off him last summer

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USA TODAY

Miguel Montero signs with team that stole seven bases off him last summer

The world can be a funny place sometimes.

Late last June, Miguel Montero was catching for the Cubs against the Washington Nationals. With Jake Arrieta on the mound, the Nationals stole seven bases in just four innings, ultimately winning the game 6-1. The night ended with Montero famously calling out Arrieta for his inability to hold on runners. 

“It really sucks because the stolen bases go on me,” Montero said. “When you really look at it, the pitcher doesn’t give me any time. It’s just like: ‘Yeah, OK, Miggy can’t throw nobody out.’ Yeah, but my pitchers don’t hold anybody on. It’s tough, because it doesn’t matter how much work I put in.

“If I don’t get a chance to throw, that’s the reason why they were running left and right today, because they know he was slow to the plate. Simple as that. It’s a shame that it’s my fault because I didn’t throw anybody out.”

Ironically enough, the Nationals signed Montero Thursday to a minor league deal with an invitation to MLB Spring Training. The move reunites him with former Cubs' bench coach and new Nationals' manager Dave Martinez.

The Cubs designated Montero for assignment for his comments, eventually trading him to the Toronto Blue Jays a few days later. He hit a subpar .216 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 76 games between the Cubs and Blue Jays while also surrendering a woeful 58 stolen bases in 63 attempts.

The Nationals already have a starting catcher in Matt Wieters, so Montero will compete for a backup position. He could prove useful in Washington, as he is a left-handed hitter that can hit for power. At this point in his career, though, his best days might be behind him.

Montero's stay in Chicago ended poorly, but he will always be remembered for his contributions that helped the Cubs win the World Series in 2016.

The veteran backstop hit a grand slam in Game 1 of the 2016 NLCS, propelling the the Cubs to a 1-0 series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also hit an RBI single in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series, putting the Cubs ahead 8-6 in a game that they won 8-7 to clinch their first championship since 1908.

 

 

Davey Martinez makes his pitch to keep Bryce Harper in D.C. — and away from the Cubs

Davey Martinez makes his pitch to keep Bryce Harper in D.C. — and away from the Cubs

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Davey Martinez finally has his dream job of running a Major League Baseball team.

And he wasted no time in petitioning for Bryce Harper to remain in Washington D.C. next year...and not joining forces with hometown buddy Kris Bryant.

"Can I lobby for him right now?" Martinez asked reporters at the MLB Winter Meetings Monday morning. 

Harper becomes a free agent at the end of the 2018 season and Cubs fans have been dreaming about a possible Las Vegas reunion between the 2015 NL MVP and the 2016 NL MVP in 2019 and beyond. Martinez, on the other hand, hopes he gets to work with Harper for "a lot of years" with the Nationals.

Martinez also stayed true to his roots and asked Maddon for advice on managing. Martinez served as Maddon's bench coach for the last three years with the Cubs and the two were paired together in the same capacity from 2008-14 with the Rays in Tampa Bay.

As he met with the media as the new skipper of the Nationals, Martinez relayed Maddon's words of advice:

"He told me, 'Be yourself. You know what you're doing; you've been around a while. Have fun with it,'" Martinez said.

Maddon's two pillars of counsel included:

1. Be yourself
2. Don't be afraid to try things

That advice is right on par with Maddon's style, as he and Martinez have worked to create a clubhouse with the Cubs where players feel free and comfortable to be who they are as players and as people. 

And of course Maddon has rarely backed down from a crazy, half-baked idea, famously putting pitchers in the outfield, hitting pitchers eighth, bringing in magicians to the clubhouse and any number of off-the-wall concepts.

Martinez — who was drafted by the Cubs as a player in the third round in 1983 and spent seven years in Chicago as a player (four with the Cubs, three with the White Sox) — has been interviewing for managerial jobs for the better part of the last decade, but now finally gets his chance with the team the Cubs knocked out of the playoffs just two months ago.

"I really believe this feels right," Martinez said. "It feels lucky to be part of a winning organization. This is the moment and I'm going to embrace it. I can't wait to get to spring training and get started."

Henry Blanco latest Cubs coach rumored to be leaving town

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AP

Henry Blanco latest Cubs coach rumored to be leaving town

The Cubs coaching cull continues.

As Davey Martinez's contract with the Washington Nationals was announced, the Washington Post revealed that Henry Blanco is expected to be named Martinez's bullpen coach in D.C.

Blanco served as the Cubs' quality control coach the last three years under Joe Maddon (and alongside Martinez). 

Blanco — possibly known more fondly to Cubs fans as "Hank White" — played 16 years in the big leagues from 1997-2013. He donned 11 different uniforms, with his longest stint with one team coming on a four-year run with the Cubs from 2005-08.

This is the latest move on the Cubs coaching staff shakeup this winter that has resulted in at least four new hires, waving goodbye to six coaches (Chris Bosio, John Mallee, Eric Hinske and Gary Jones plus Martinez and Blanco). Brandon Hyde also moved from first-base coach to bench coach under Maddon.

Blanco also served officially as the Cubs' translator on staff as he spoke both English and Spanish.