Cubs

Cubs' timeline for Willson Contreras with Miguel Montero on DL

Cubs' timeline for Willson Contreras with Miguel Montero on DL

Willson Contreras isn’t walking through that door – at least not yet – but the Cubs still envision their catcher of the future making his mark at some point this season.

It won’t be an immediate impact since the Cubs placed Miguel Montero on the disabled list with lower back tightness before Thursday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, promoting Triple-A Iowa catcher Tim Federowicz to Wrigley Field and having David Ross catch Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta.

That’s the biggest concern now, how Contreras would handle a veteran pitching staff with strong personalities and how much he still has to develop defensively at the Triple-A level. Because last year’s Southern League batting champion is hitting .375 through his first 14 games with Iowa and has all the physical tools that essentially made him an untouchable prospect during trade talks over the winter.

“When I came up to the big leagues my first year, I thought it was going to be easier,” Montero said. “I wondered the same question for myself: ‘Man, how difficult could it be?’ To be honest, I didn’t realize until I had a couple years in the big leagues that it was harder than you think.

“Especially when you have these kinds of pitchers that have been around for a long time. You’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself, trying to call the perfect game for this guy. It’s a lot of weight on your shoulders.

“I guess they’re trying to avoid that. Obviously, the time will come for (Contreras). But the only way to figure it out is to let him catch out here with them. I think that’s the only way to prove (yourself) and learn.

“If you keep saying he’s not ready to catch a major-league staff yet, when is he going to be ready, right?”

Montero didn’t know what triggered this injury – “I guess it’s age, right?” he said with a smile – but he felt something similar with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013 and missed almost a month while recovering from a lower back strain.  

Montero – who will turn 33 this summer and earn $14 million in the final guaranteed season of his contract next year – had been awaiting the results of an MRI and mentioned a couple of bulging discs in his back.

The Cubs need short- and long-term insurance policies and succession plans because “Grandpa Rossy” intends to retire after this season and Kyle Schwarber will have to prove he can still catch at the major-league level after undergoing surgery on his left knee to reconstruct his ACL and repair his LCL.

It’s not realistic to think Ross can catch 100-something games at the age of 39. Federowicz looks like a decent backup option after playing parts of four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“We just had to make a choice right there,” manager Joe Maddon said. “‘Fed’ was here for a reason. ‘Fed’ had a great spring training and you’re looking at the overall development of Contreras.

“In your mind’s eye, if you’re putting this whole thing together, with a guy like Willson, you’re probably going to wait until the second half, hopefully, to get him involved here. Or the latter part of the season to really get him here (and) get his feet on the ground.”

It’s probably not fair to drop Contreras into the clubhouse of a World Series contender before his 24th birthday and expect him to take charge of one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.

Remember, the Cubs left Contreras exposed in the Rule 5 draft after the 2014 season and didn’t add him to the 40-man roster, partially because the infielder signed out of Venezuela hadn’t played above the A-ball level at that point.

“You bring in a guy like ‘Fed’ for a specific reason and here the specific reason just popped up,” Maddon said. “He’s a veteran. He understands the major leagues. He understands veteran pitchers.

“There’s a lot of different reasons why you sign ‘Fed’ in the first place – and then you don’t run away from him when the opportunity jumps up there. Contreras’ time will come.”  

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast here or via the embedded player below: