Cubs All-Stars have fun with boos, family duel

July 10th, 2019

On the field, it was an uneventful All-Star experience for the Cubs’ three representatives. Outside of the box score, however, there was no shortage of fun.

, and combined for an 0-for-5 night with three strikeouts in what turned into a 4-3 win for the American League in the 2019 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. But they were entertained, and entertaining, just the same.

Back in Cleveland again after clinching the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field, each Cub received boos from the Indians faithful every time they were announced. At starting lineup introductions, Baez played to the crowd, blowing a kiss and pumping his arms up and down as if to say, “That all you got?” Contreras, warming up in the bullpen during that time, made a “look at me” gesture toward his eyes into the TV cameras.

“The fans in Cleveland were pretty good,” laughed Bryant, who entered the game in left field in the fourth and struck out his only at-bat in the sixth. “Fun hearing them. They showed up.”

Each Cub said it was impossible for emotions not to bubble up being back in Cleveland, where the club's 108-year championship drought ended in November 2016.

“It definitely brought back that time in our lives. But if I was a fan, too, I’d boo,” Bryant said. “That was such a crazy World Series. Really good to be back here. Stepping back on that field brought back a lot of memories.”

The fans even booed former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman when he came on to save the game for the AL.

“There’s great memories here for our team, and it was a great experience,” Baez added. “I enjoyed this year a little bit more than last year because I was in the [2018] Derby. I had a lot of fun with it here and I really enjoyed it.”

For Baez, the emotions were twofold.

When he stepped up in the third inning for his second at-bat, it was none other than brother-in-law Jose Berrios of the Twins staring him down on the mound. Any positive sentiments from the almost 30-member family dinner Monday in Cleveland subsided for a brief moment.

Baez and Berrios have now faced off two times in their careers, with the other coming in the 2018 All-Star Game.

“I told him, 'Take it easy with me,' because I already had one strikeout,” Baez joked, with mutual friend Francisco Lindor barking in his ear.

After Tuesday, Baez -- the first player to start the All-Star Game at second base and shortstop in consecutive years -- has flied out to the outfield both times he’s faced Berrios. This year, it was on a first-pitch changeup he missed before playfully throwing his bat down in frustration.

“Last year, he threw me, I think, four fastballs in a row,” Baez said. “I just missed it a little bit, but it was fun facing him again.”

“Javy, he’s family,” Berrios said pregame. “His wife and my wife are sisters, so we’re like almost brothers.”

Contreras batted seventh, struck out and caught four innings of one-run ball from Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom and Luis Castillo.

Now, the Cubs head back to Chicago ready to improve on what they felt was a subpar first half by their standards. And it comes in a NL Central where the margin for error is razor thin.

After Bryant takes a couple of days to “relax and watch TV,” he’ll bring back an attitude looking to press the foot on the pedal even harder. He’s confident his teammates are ready to do so, too.

“I think we always come out of break and off-days … ready to go and focused,” he said. “Hopefully we are all using that time to rest. I’m sure everybody is. Just looking forward to turning the story around.”