WASHINGTON — Within 24 hours, the Cubs followed up maybe their best win of the season with one of their ugliest losses and a classic Miguel Montero rant. Next stop: The Trump White House.
Montero walked out of the showers and across the room late Tuesday night with towels wrapped across his waist and draped over his shoulders. He didn’t even bother to change into his clothes before calling the waiting reporters over to his locker after a 6-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.
Montero dropped a truth bomb in the middle of the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park, calling out Jake Arrieta without directly mentioning his name and talking in the third person after Washington stole seven bases in four innings.
“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.”
Now 0-for-31 in that department this season, Montero namedropped Jason Hammel — the ex-Cub now pitching for the Kansas City Royals — to show the de-emphasis on holding runners.
“We talk every year in spring training, but it’s frustrating, because it seems nobody really cares about it,” Montero said. “Like: ‘OK, yeah, I got to pitch. And if they run, they run, I don’t care.’
“Perfect example: We got Salvador Perez, the best throwing catcher in the game, and Jason Hammel’s got 10 stolen bases and only one caught stealing, so what does that tell you? They didn’t give him a chance.”
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This pitching philosophy didn’t stop the Cubs from winning 200 games and a World Series title across the last two seasons. Even with his rocket arm, Willson Contreras would have trouble stopping Washington leadoff guy Trea Turner, who stole four bases and now has back-to-back 30-steal years, even though so far he’s never played more than 73 games in a season.
“It always goes to the catcher and I’m the bad guy there,” Montero said. “It really sucks, but it is what it is and I got to take full responsibility. But in the end, I would like a little help.”
Montero is a two-time All-Star catcher known for his brutal honesty and willingness to mentor players like Contreras. But Montero is about to turn 34 and making $14 million in the final year of his contract and clearly aware of his uncertain future.
“I feel like I can still throw,” said Montero, who rushed one throw to third base and fired the ball into left field, allowing Michael Taylor to score. “I got a good arm. My arm felt great. I just try to be quicker. I try to be perfect. And to make those two go together, it’s hard to do.”
This is Miggy Being Miggy.
Joe Maddon requested a sit-down meeting with Montero in spring training after he criticized the manager’s communication skills and in-game World Series decisions during a WMVP-AM 1000 interview ... on the same day as the championship parade and Grant Park rally.
Over red wine at an Italian restaurant near the team’s complex in Arizona, the two cleared the air and posted to social media a photo of them toasting drinks. The frustration is building again for a team that is supposed to do the little things well.
Why are the defending champs 39-38 and so inconsistent?
“That’s the million-dollar question right there,” Montero said. “If I would have known the answer, I would be talking to the guys to figure it out and get it going. It’s tough. It’s one of those days that you get beat.
“We played sloppy. Simple as that. We all did. It’s going to be hard to sleep on it, because it was just a bad game.”