Cubs plan to keep Contreras fresh down stretch

All-Star catcher's health key to postseason push; Maddon praises Angels; Nahas signs

July 13th, 2019

CHICAGO -- If the Cubs plan to make it to the postseason this year, is going to be a big part of it. But in order for that to happen, Chicago has to keep its All-Star catcher healthy.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon says the team has a plan to keep Contreras healthy down the stretch and make sure he’s not overworked.

Last season, Contreras carried an .818 OPS prior to the All-Star break, but he went into a deep slump in the second half, struggling with an .585 OPS the rest of the way.

“Last year’s game plan was fine,” Maddon said. “The number of games he caught last year were absolutely perfect. Whatever the struggles were, I don’t necessarily think it was a fatigue thing. We only caught him four games consecutively last year twice. For the most part, it’s three and a day off.”

Playing in the National League requires a bit more focus in rotating off-days for players without the benefit of a designated hitter spot, but the Cubs have used their star backstop as an outfielder on occasion. Playing Contreras there more in the second half could provide the Cubs a way to get additional offense in the lineup and save his body.

“Having been a catcher myself and being able to play the other positions while I was catching, it is like a day off. The legs don’t feel the brunt of anything you do as a catcher, and even the mind gets a break, too. Catching every day is the most demanding position out there," Maddon said.

“Will we play him there? I don’t know -- that’s not part of the plan right now. Would I run away from it? No. If it’s necessary, he’s very amenable. But you do have an All-Star catcher. He’s a guy that’s very good at what he does."

Maddon talks about Angels’ performance honoring Skaggs

The Los Angeles Angels left the entire baseball world in awe with their performance on Friday night as they honored the late Tyler Skaggs.

With Skaggs’ family in attendance, the Angels pitched a combined no-hitter in a 13-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on an emotional night. Following the game, each player laid their No. 45 jersey they wore during the game on the mound as a tribute.

“It’s pretty phenomenal. I’m very happy for them,” said Maddon, who spent 30 years in Angels organization. “I do have a soft spot for them. They gave me my first opportunity. Very happy that they’ve been able to work through this to the point that they have. Tyler’s family, our hearts go out to them also. I think his wife was present there, too.

“All of the above, man. There’s been a lot of tragedy involved in that organization over the years. This is another moment that is really hard to understand, so for that brief moment last night, everyone could come together and have somewhat of a good feeling about the recent past.”

Cubs sign undrafted free agent Nahas

The Cubs have signed Georgia Southern right-handed pitcher Joe Nahas as an undrafted free agent. He came on late and performed well in the Cape Cod League last summer, running his fastball up to 95 mph and complementing it with a solid slider.

Nahas was 2-0 with a 4.78 ERA in 14 games with Georgia Southern this season. His $135,000 bonus is the most for an undrafted free agent this year, according to MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis.