MESA, Ariz. – Over red wine, Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon ended their cold war on Monday night, dining at Andreoli Italian Grocer and vowing to work together as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title.
The Montero-Maddon dynamic lingered as an awkward storyline in a feel-good camp after the veteran catcher questioned the star manager's communication skills and in-game decisions during a WMVP-AM 1000 interview – on the same day as the championship parade and Grant Park rally.
"I got a lot off my chest," Montero said Tuesday. "I care so much for the game. I care so much for the team. I'm here to win. And it's hard when you have that (weight) on your shoulders.
"I've never been a cancer (anywhere) that I played for all these years. And I'm not planning to be one of those guys."
Maddon requested the dinner meeting – quality assurance coach/ex-player Henry Blanco joined the peace summit as a neutral third party – while Montero picked the Scottsdale restaurant. Montero – who will become a free agent after this season – suggested posting a photo of them toasting drinks on his Twitter account.
"I want to let the people know that it's going to be a great year," Montero said.
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Montero said he slept so much better that night and showed up for work at the Sloan Park complex the next morning with a new energy level. Montero, a two-time All-Star, stressed that he understands his role as a $14 million backup and a mentor to young catcher Willson Contreras. Montero offered to continue helping police the clubhouse – in exchange for Maddon keeping him more in the loop.
"Whatever it takes me to help him," Montero said. "I was true with him when I said: ‘If you feel Willson needs a break and it's (Clayton) Kershaw pitching for the other team, put me in, I'm fine.'
"That's my job and I accept it. Just count on me for whatever. If we need to send a message out there to the players, I'm here for you, too. I can help you on that.
"If I do something that you don't like, just let me know. Just chew me out, whatever, I don't care. I'll take it like a man. It was a great time."
Montero had already told reporters that his comments on the radio weren't simply complaining about his own individual situation. Montero also spoke up for teammates frustrated by a perceived lack of communication and uncertainty over roles, though those behind-the-scenes issues appear to be cooling for now.
"I think everyone right after the World Series is borderline delirious," general manager Jed Hoyer said. "I don't think you take a lot of those comments all that seriously."
Maddon had repeatedly downplayed those issues, telling the media he didn't need to clear the air and crediting Montero for his grand slam during the National League Championship Series, calming influence on Aroldis Chapman and game-winning RBI in a World Series Game 7.
"The ravioli was spectacular," Maddon said. "(Miggy's) such a valuable liaison, kind of, between the coaches and the room because of how many years he's been around. Plus, he's really astute. We just had a conversion about 'Stropy' (reliever Pedro Strop) on the field and what I wanted to say to him – he started first and he's saying to me exactly what I wanted to say to him.
"We didn't really talk about last year a whole lot. We just talked about now. We talked about the beautiful thing is we won a World Series together. It's about moving forward. Really, there was not a lot of hashing about the past. It was about now and what's going to happen next."
Of course, the vibe in Arizona – or immediately after a World Series parade – is supposed to be relaxed and optimistic.
"We have a special team," Montero said. "We have a legitimate chance to win another championship. So in order to do that, we need to be together here. And I think we are now – and we're going to stay that way."