Cubs

Miguel Montero explains how things ended with Cubs: ‘It wasn’t the nicest way to leave Chicago’

Miguel Montero explains how things ended with Cubs: ‘It wasn’t the nicest way to leave Chicago’

Miguel Montero wasn’t welcomed back to the Friendly Confines in a very friendly way.

But then he didn’t leave in the friendliest way, either.

The guy who blasted a grand slam in last postseason’s National League Championship Series and drove in the run that ended up being the difference in Game 7 of the World Series was booed repeatedly as if he was a rival St. Louis Cardinal, not an integral part of the biggest moment in franchise history.

Heck, Dexter Fowler is currently a St. Louis Cardinal and continues to receive warm receptions when he returns to Wrigley Field.

But of course Montero, here for the weekend’s series between the Cubs and his new team, the Toronto Blue Jays, left under different circumstances.

After Montero made critical comments about Jake Arrieta’s speed to the plate — something he insisted was to blame for the Washington Nationals stealing a whole bunch of bases in a late-June game in D.C. — the veteran catcher was DFA’d and traded to the Blue Jays.

It wasn’t Montero’s first public transgression. You might remember him jumping on the radio to criticize manager Joe Maddon on the day of the Cubs’ championship parade and rally. Not a great look, that.

And so Montero was quickly jettisoned to the American League, to Canada, and branded as a bad teammate for calling out Arrieta so publicly.

He talked with CSN’s Kelly Crull before Friday’s game, saying he didn’t regret the things he said, not a surprise for a guy who’s always been brutally honest.

“It wasn’t the nicest way to leave Chicago. But it’s in the past. It was tough, it was difficult, definitely was hard. You think it over and over and over. It’s just hard because if that would’ve been the first time I said that, that’d be different,” Montero explained, revealing he’d talked with Arrieta about the issue a bunch before his comments to reporters. “But I’d been on it since spring training about that. People said ‘closed-door,’ I did that closed-door plenty, plenty times. So I feel like enough is enough at times. And, yeah, I said it. I didn’t say it in a bad way.

“People say ‘he threw him under the bus.’ I didn’t mean to throw him under the bus, I just said what it was. I’m not saying I threw him under the bus. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. But it is what it is, it happened.

“It’s too bad I left as a bad teammate, which, I’ve played with a lot of guys and no one said anything bad about me. But it is what it is. I’m happy now with where I’m at. It’s not that I wasn’t happy over there. I wish I wouldn’t have left in that way, for those reasons. But I don’t regret anything. It happened. I felt bad for Jake, and that’s why I apologized to him.”

Whether or not Montero and Arrieta patched things up right away — Montero said the two spoke the night those comments were made — didn’t end up mattering.

On the baseball side of things, Montero’s departure meant a necessary trade to acquire Alex Avila from the Detroit Tigers. It means plenty of what ifs now that Willson Contreras is in the middle of a stay on the disabled list.

Sadly, for a guy who’s had a nice career in the big leagues, it means many Cubs fans will remember Montero more for his exit than what he did to help bring a World Series to the North Side for the first time in more than a century.

But Montero is still fond of his time in a Cubs uniform.

“A lot of good friends here,” he said. “Just because I left doesn’t mean they stopped being my friends. Obviously between the lines it’s a little different playing against them, but I still respect them all. Great guys, and I’m happy to see them again.”

Jon Lester's soccer career and other things to know about Cubs left-hander

Jon Lester's soccer career and other things to know about Cubs left-hander

Jon Lester is the best free agent addition in Cubs history, the guy who joined a last place club and helped push them to perennial contender status. He played a big part in the Cubs snapping their World Series drought, and even at 36 remains a durable, competitive starter.

Here’s a few things you may not know about the Cubs’ left-hander.

1. While playing in a soccer tournament in Italy at the age of 13, an Italian club approached Lester about playing professionally. He turned it down and the Red Sox drafted him five years later.

2. In August 2006, two months after making his MLB debut, Lester was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He underwent chemotherapy in the 2006-07 offseason and returned to the Red Sox in July 2007.

3. Lester’s charity, NVRQT, works to raise awareness and funds to fight pediatric cancer. Lester was the Cubs’ 2019 Robert Clemente Award nominee for his charitable efforts.

4. In 2011, Lester was featured on a wine label produced by Longball Cellars. Proceeds from “CabernAce” benefited the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

5. Lester, an avid golfer, once shot an 81 at Augusta National, according to Golf Digest.

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Anthony Rizzo has no regrets over signing bargain extension in 2013

Anthony Rizzo has no regrets over signing bargain extension in 2013

Back in 2013, the Cubs locked up a 23-year-old Anthony Rizzo on a seven-year, $41 million extension — with two options that could make it nine years for $74 million.

Rizzo is a cancer survivor, and gaining financial stability was a big thing for him. Seven years later, the deal is one of the best in baseball from a team perspective, but incredibly below market value overall.

However, the big first baseman, who’s emerged as a cornerstone for the Cubs, has no regrets over his decision.

“I’ve had the freedom from 22, 23 years old to financially do whatever I want and play freely,” Rizzo told NBC Sports Chicago’s Gordon Wittenmyer. “And I’m going to be able to do financially whatever I want for the rest of my life as long as I don’t make poor choices.

“At the end of this contract, it’ll make a lot of money, and I’m playing the game I love.”

The Cubs shut down extension talks with Rizzo over the winter, and he said it never got to the point of discussing any numbers. He has “no idea” what the Cubs’ thinking was on shutting down those talks, too.

The two sides will likely talk extension again in the future, but until then, the Cubs have Rizzo on an absolute bargain of a deal.

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