CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs got an extended All-Star break when Sunday’s game against St. Louis was postponed because of rain.
It sounds as if they could use the extra time off.
Cubs manager David Ross said the team had internal conversations a day after catcher Willson Contreras appeared to criticize some of his teammates’ effort during a 6-0 loss to the Cardinals.
“I think he was frustrated,” Ross said after Sunday’s game was postponed. “I think he’s been around here a long time and been a part of a lot of winning, and it’s the first time, really, he’s had to go through a little bit of this, you know, different stuff going on.”
The Cubs have dropped 13 of 15, falling from a tie for first in the NL Central to a tie for third in the division with the Cardinals. After they finished with six hits Saturday night, Contreras said he felt like everyone was distracted, probably because of the upcoming All-Star break.
“We have to win as a team. But also I cannot ask everybody to play like I do or to play like (Javier) Báez and I play,” Contreras said. “Everybody’s different. I know that they might be tired, but I’m here to win. I’m here to compete, and that’s what I like to have from everybody else.”
Contreras’ comments caused a stir among his teammates, and they spent at least part of Sunday trying to clean up the situation.
Ross, who is in his second year as a big league manager, said he felt Contreras’ assessment was incorrect.
“I don’t know how the questions were framed and all those things, but I think the message was a little misinterpreted in the context of what I heard him talk about today,” Ross said. “I don’t think it’s effort. I don’t think it’s a focus (thing).
“These guys are giving effort. There’s no doubt about that. And these guys work and prepare. I see it daily. I think there’s a sense of just making sure when things are going bad, coming together is really important.”
Contreras said Saturday night that he was one of the leaders on the team, but declined to answer when asked if he felt he could say something to the players he thought were distracted.
“There’s a lot going on,” Contreras said. “There’s a lot of things that I would like to say. But I’d rather keep it to myself than say it.”
Contreras helped the Cubs win the 2016 World Series in his first year in the majors, and they made the playoffs again in 2017, 2018 and 2020. But they appear to be headed for a big sell-off at the July 30 trade deadline, with Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo eligible for free agency after this season and All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel likely one of the top arms on the market.
The 29-year-old Contreras can become a free agent after the 2022 season. Asked Sunday if the two-time All-Star was a leader for the Cubs (44-46), Ross said he is a big part of the team.
“I think that what he said last night needs to be said in-house and not to the media,” Ross said. “I think he understands that. I think that’s a good lesson. But I think good is going to come of it.”
Sunday’s rainout will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Sept. 24. The start time for the second seven-inning game is pending discussions with city officials.
St. Louis (44-46) hits the All-Star break with its own issues. It is just 9-13 in its past 22 games, but manager Mike Shildt touted the team’s recent offensive improvement as reason for optimism.
“We’re capable of doing great things in the second half,” he said.
Next up for St. Louis is a seven-game homestand, beginning Friday night against NL West-leading San Francisco. Chicago hits the road for a seven-game trip, starting Friday night at last-place Arizona.
St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright and Chicago right-hander Trevor Williams were scheduled to start Sunday.
Shildt said Wainwright could start the first game after the break, but no decision had been made. Ross said his team will go with Kyle Hendricks, Adbert Alzolay and Zach Davies for its series against the Diamondbacks.
Ross also said injured infielders Matt Duffy and David Bote will begin minor league rehabilitation assignments this week. Duffy has been sidelined by a low back strain, and Bote is coming back from a dislocated left shoulder.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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