Jose Quintana sounds relieved he won’t have to face his former White Sox teammates this week.
The pitcher said Tuesday morning that he’s ecstatic for his new opportunity with the Cubs, who have made him feel very comfortable these first two weeks. After he earned his second win for the Cubs on Sunday night, Quintana spent part of pregame Monday with his former White Sox teammates in visiting clubhouse at Wrigley Field. They caught up on small talk and Quintana said they spent as much time together as they could. That’s a luxury he wouldn’t have been afforded had he been preparing to face them on Monday instead. The Cubs decided last Friday that Quintana would pitch Sunday night against the St. Louis Cardinals and not again until this Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Though he wants to face them in the future and knows it will happen one day, Quintana doesn’t sound as if he objected to the decision made by the Cubs coaching staff.
“One day I’ll pitch against them, but that’s the decision of the pitching coach and the manager,” Quintana said. “They wanted me to face the Brewers the first game. But it would have been a little hard for me to face the White Sox, too, my old teammates. But one day for sure I want to face them.”
Quintana has already experienced a similar scenario earlier this season when he pitched against former White Sox pitcher Chris Sale at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 30. Facing Sale in his return with the Boston Red Sox wasn’t easy, Quintana said. Both pitchers struggled and instead of a pitching duel, the Red Sox outslugged the White Sox 13-7. Afterward, Quintana said he was embarrassed by his performance.
“It would be similar because when I faced Sailor it was a little weird, one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” Quintana said. “You know, facing my old teammates, the lineup, would be a little weird.”
Third baseman Matt Davidson acknowledged how surreal the situations seems to see Quintana in a Cubs uniform. Though they only played together a little in the majors, Davidson has been around the veteran pitcher for several years every spring. To see him as part of the exodus of major league talent from the White Sox roster isn’t surprising, but it isn’t easy, either, Davidson said.
“He’s wearing blue now but that’s kind of part of the game you’re used to,” Davidson said. “It definitely kind of hurt a little bit to lose a guy who’s a cornerstone of the organization like that, him leaving. But it’s to be expected with the rebuild going on and we’re moving in the right direction.”
Jose Abreu agrees that seeing Quintana on the Cubs is different. But as awkward as the situation may be, Abreu would have loved to face Quintana. That should come as no surprise as Abreu was up for the challenge of facing Sale, producing a two-run, bases-loaded single against him in May.
“He was here with us a week ago, and now he’s gone,” Abreu said through an interpreter on Friday. “But those are the kind of things you like, to face the best in baseball. I wish him the best, but I would like to face him.”
Quintana said he wasn’t surprised by the news when manager Rick Renteria called July 13 to inform him he’d been traded. The landing spot may have come as a surprise, but Quintana heard the rumors and acknowledged to Rick Hahn they bothered him early in the season.
So far, Quintana has enjoyed the transition. He said Joe Maddon’s staff has made him feel very much at home.
As for facing his old ‘mates, Quintana looks forward to that opportunity, too.
“They’ve made it easy to be here, the coaches,” Quintana said. “I appreciate this organization for giving me the opportunity to be here. I enjoy it and I’m happy and excited to be here. I have a really good opportunity to make the playoffs.
“(Facing the White Sox) is part of being here so one day I’ll go face them.”