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.”