Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Cubs News

Contreras to IL, will have MRI on hamstring

Club recalls Davis from Triple-A to back up behind the plate
@MLBastian
August 4, 2019

CHICAGO -- One move the Cubs made prior to the Trade Deadline earlier this week was shipping veteran catcher Martín Maldonado to the Astros in exchange for utility man Tony Kemp. Chicago was not comfortable with its three-catcher setup and wanted to add some flexibility to its bench. With that

CHICAGO -- One move the Cubs made prior to the Trade Deadline earlier this week was shipping veteran catcher Martín Maldonado to the Astros in exchange for utility man Tony Kemp. Chicago was not comfortable with its three-catcher setup and wanted to add some flexibility to its bench.

With that move, the Cubs risked being one injury away from having their depth behind the plate tested. That scenario surfaced on Saturday, when All-Star catcher Willson Contreras grabbed the back of his right leg while running up the first-base line on a flyout in the seventh inning and then exited Chicago's 4-1 win over the Brewers with a strained right hamstring. The Cubs placed Contreras on the 10-day injured list Sunday, recalling catcher Taylor Davis from Triple-A Iowa to take his place on the 25-man roster.

"It's always a tough blow when you lose a catcher like him," Cubs starter Cole Hamels said. "He's an All-Star. You don't find those out there."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon noted that Contreras is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on his hamstring on Monday. After that step, the Cubs will have more information about the severity of the injury and the catcher's timetable for return.

Following the game, Maddon was unwilling to speculate about how much time Contreras could miss.

"I really don't know at this point," said the manager. "We'll just wait and see how it plays out."

Contreras ripped a pitch from Brewers reliever Junior Guerra to left-center field, where center fielder Lorenzo Cain chased it down with a running catch in the gap. At the same time, the Cubs catcher was hopping up the first-base line, avoiding putting weight on his right leg after pulling up lame a few steps out of the batter's box.

Contreras completed the trek to first, but was noticeably upset as he met with head athletic trainer P.J. Mainville on the infield and walked slowly back to the dugout. The catcher sat on the bench and hung his head as backup Victor Caratini took over in the game for the Cubs

In 87 games this season, Contreras has batted .275 with 19 home runs, 57 RBIs and an .890 OPS, and he was voted the National League's starting catcher for the All-Star Game for the second year in a row. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout on Saturday before exiting with the injury.

Last month, Contreras went on the 10-day injured list with a right foot issue, prompting the Cubs to swing a trade with the Royals to add Maldonado to the fold. Upon Contreras' return, Chicago carried three catchers, but that approach hindered Maddon's in-game maneuvering due to the short-handed bench.

"We definitely tinkered around with what it would feel like with three catchers," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said after trading Maldonado on Wednesday. "And, to be honest with you, we got to a place where we weren't that comfortable with doing that. Everyone was really professional about it. But, ultimately, Martin is a free agent and Vic has been wonderful for us."

Impact of Contreras' injury

While Contreras is sidelined, Caratini will slide into the regular role behind the dish. With Maldonado now reunited with the Astros, who acquired him at the Trade Deadline in each of the last two seasons, the Cubs' third-string catcher is Davis. Even without the option of Major League waiver trades now in August, teams are limited to Minor League-only trades or signing free agents. Maddon said he expected the front office to see what external options exist, but expressed confidence in Davis.

"The guys are always going to be active in that," Maddon said. "But we've moved this whole thing along knowing that Taylor would be next in line. He's done a nice job here before. The pitchers like to throw to him. Analytically speaking, our guys upstairs love him. If it plays out this way, we're fine."

Hoyer echoed that stance on Wednesday.

"We feel really good about Taylor," Hoyer said. "There are some off-roster moves you can try to make, but in general, yeah, we feel good about that. Taylor's been really solid for us and he's done a good job when he's come up here and we feel good about him there."

Worth noting

• Third baseman Kris Bryant was given a day off from starting for Sunday's game against the Brewers. Maddon said it was also a chance for Bryant to rest his right knee, which forced him to exit a game on July 24 in San Francisco. In eight games since that minor setback, Bryant has gone 5-for-33 (.152) with 12 strikeouts and one walk.

"He's fine," Maddon said. "I'm just watching him and talking to him and I thought it would be the perfect day to give to him today."

• Reliever Pedro Strop, who is on the 10-day IL with a neck issue, has thrown off a mound and is feeling good, according to Maddon. The manager said Strop is "on the horizon," noting that more information would come in the next few days.

• Veteran utility man Ben Zobrist (on the restricted list) went 2-for-3 and played second base in his second Minor League game with Class A South Bend on Saturday. Zobrist is slated to play for South Bend on Sunday before the Cubs meet Monday to determine his next step in his planned comeback.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.