Tears started to fill Wilson Contreras’ red-rimmed eyes.
For months, the Mask of the Chicago Cubs All-Star has been keeping his thoughts on his future. Free agency, deadline trade, all the uncertainties after 13 years with the only big league organization he’s ever known – these were things to worry about later.
he had Maintained since spring training That he was focused on the present and taking things day in and day out, refusing to let the state of his contract affect his performance or become a distraction at the club. Nothing seemed to bother Contreras until Monday night.
Loud cheers and “Wilson!” Down the left line Contreras greeted as he entered the batting box in the final in the eighth inning of the Cubs’ 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. His night ended by securing the first blow to save Loyal Scott Evros for the first time. For a moment, when Contreras congratulated Effross up the hill and they went across the handshake line after the win, it felt like a typical win. “Go Cubs Go” rolled out in front of 37,342 fans to celebrate the Cubs’ victory for the fifth consecutive season.
But with Tuesday’s match before the team embarks on a seven-game journey that takes them across Trade deadline is August 2Monday will likely be Contreras’ last start behind the plate at Wrigley Field as a cub.
It’s been a tough two days for me,” Contreras said afterward. “I try to appreciate everything at Wrigley Field, thinking about all the memories I have here since 2016. … this is probably my last home with the fans this year. It’s tough for me.
“I knew it would come to me at some point. I hope that day doesn’t come. But it’s work. I know that. I respect that.”
Contreras paused as he began to choke.
He continued, “I love my team.” “I love my teammates so much and I don’t want to get too hung up because you never know what’s going to happen next week or even this week in San Francisco. It was a tough, tough day for me.”
Hours ago, defense player Ian Hap Address an unknown and his future with the organizationYou will probably soon join the notable departures on the list from the past three years.
“It’s crazy to think that you might wake up one day and not be here,” Hap said. “It’s part of the game. It’s part of what we sign up to do.”
The way Contreras let his emotions show through his play is part of what made him so likable. Head coach David Ross has seen Contreras evolve since his debut in 2016 with the biggest role he took on this year.
“He is an outstanding player,” Ross said. “And watching him continue to improve, not only as a player but also as a teammate and as a captain, those qualities came into play.”
Chicago Tribune Sports
A daily sports newsletter delivered to your inbox for your morning commute.
Chris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo Don’t forget he didn’t play In Cubs’ last home game before last year’s trade deadline. Rizzo was dealt with by the time the team left for the airport that day. Bryant was wearing his helmet and was preparing the discus when the match ended, and one last loss at Wrigley.
On Monday, Ross was entertained by a plot idea to keep the duo out of the squad a day before the deadline, instead noting that it was “too organic” because Rizzo requested a day off while Bryant was on a day off.
There was no way Contreras wouldn’t be in the Tuesday squad.
Wrigley’s highly anticipated final chapter turned out to be another emotional day for one of the franchise’s most decorated hunters.
“The fans embraced me, and (showed) how much they love me,” he said after Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Pirates. “If I had to walk away from this team, I would walk away with my head held high. I know I have done everything in my power to improve this team, since day one when I was called up in 2016, and I have a good relationship here.
“It’s hard. That’s the only thing I know.”
Tribune columnist Paul Sullivan contributed.
“Student. Incurable problem solver. Amateur baconaholic. Introvert. Infuriatingly humble music fanatic.”