Contreras brothers go yard on 'special' day

June 9th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- After his towering home run off San Diego's Dinelson Lamet on Tuesday night, Cubs catcher allowed himself to enjoy the moment. It marked the first time both Contreras brothers homered on the same day in the Majors.

"That's when it really hit me," Contreras said via translator on Wednesday morning at Petco Park. "I felt it. It's something special. Being young, growing up together, getting to the big leagues, it's something really good for us."

Contreras' solo blast off Lamet marked his 10th of the season and helped power a 7-1 win over the Padres. Earlier in the day in Philadelphia, Braves catcher launched a solo shot off Aaron Nola to help trigger a comeback win for Atlanta. Both home runs came in the fourth inning.

Given the three-hour time difference in San Diego, Willson Contreras saw before the game that his brother had gone deep. The younger Contreras now has six blasts for the Braves.

"It really was a special day," the Cubs’ catcher said. "We both talked about it. We texted. He was happy for me. I was happy for him. Up to this moment, we're still talking about it."

The elder Contreras is a two-time All-Star -- voted the starter for the National League in the 2018-19 Midsummer Classics -- who is leading the Majors in innings caught. He has a .776 OPS through 55 games, while his younger brother has posted an .806 OPS through 27 games for Atlanta.

Willson Contreras has stated in the past that his younger brother has the potential to be the better hitter as he continues to gain experience. The Cubs’ catcher repeated that belief on Wednesday, too.

"My brother is someone who's more of a natural swinger," he said. "I think when William gets more experience, of course he will get better, but I think he can be better than I am."

Happ mans second
The Cubs currently have Javier Báez out of the starting lineup to rest a sore right hand. Infielders Matt Duffy, Nico Hoerner and David Bote are all on the injured list. Sergio Alcántara has been manning shortstop and Eric Sogard has received a heavy workload of late up the middle.

Under the circumstances, outfielder Ian Happ recently told manager David Ross he would help in the infield, if needed.

"Happer, last week," Ross said, "when a lot of guys were going down, just said, 'Hey, if you need me, I can get back to the infield. I'm willing to do whatever.’ That's the kind of player he is. We've got a lot of those guys."

For Wednesday's game in San Diego, Happ got the start at second base for the first time since Sept. 12, 2019 (also in San Diego, as it happens). Happ has been a center fielder for the bulk of the past two years, but he had played in 59 games (346 innings) at second in the Majors, entering Wednesday.

"Sometimes the season demands those types of moves to happen," Cubs bench and infield coach Andy Green said. "He's got a lot in his history. It's not completely foreign to him."

Asked if Happ playing second could develop into more than a one-game situation, Ross left the possibilities open.

“I think that all depends on a lot of things," Ross said. "Like, I don't know that I had planned on putting Patrick Wisdom into the lineup every single day until he started smashing homers."

Worth noting
• Ross noted that Báez was available off the bench on Tuesday night and again for Wednesday's finale in San Diego. He remains day to day with right hand soreness and might return to the lineup on Friday.

• There are still "a lot of moving parts" in the rotation, per Ross, so the Cubs have yet to announce their probable starters for the upcoming weekend series against the Cardinals.

• Kris Bryant was out of the lineup on Wednesday, but Ross said it was "just a day off" for the Cubs’ star.

"They're amazing. K.B., in particular. He's MVP of the league right now and he's playing all over the field and he's doing a great job for us. That sets a tone for everybody. And also it makes it easier for Happ to bounce into the infield today and help us out in there, especially with a roster that's needed real flexibility right now. These guys are unbelievable guys." -- Green, on players like Bryant and Happ playing multiple positions