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Contreras' suspension reduced to 1 game

Cubs' catcher patches things up with umpire Baker; sits on Sunday
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Cubs catcher Willson Contreras didn't waste any time before apologizing to umpire Jordan Baker on Saturday. One day after Baker ejected Contreras from the game, the umpire and catcher shook hands at home plate. And the next day, Contreras' two-game suspension was reduced to one game, which he served on Sunday.

"I did something wrong, and that wasn't me; that was the adrenaline from the game," Contreras said after the Cubs' 4-1 win over the Cardinals. "I needed to apologize. Nobody's perfect. That was part of my job today was to apologize to everybody and move on.

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CHICAGO -- Cubs catcher Willson Contreras didn't waste any time before apologizing to umpire Jordan Baker on Saturday. One day after Baker ejected Contreras from the game, the umpire and catcher shook hands at home plate. And the next day, Contreras' two-game suspension was reduced to one game, which he served on Sunday.

"I did something wrong, and that wasn't me; that was the adrenaline from the game," Contreras said after the Cubs' 4-1 win over the Cardinals. "I needed to apologize. Nobody's perfect. That was part of my job today was to apologize to everybody and move on.

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"[Baker] told me, 'It's over, and we need to play the game and forget about it,'" Contreras said.

On Saturday, Contreras learned that he had been suspended two games and he and pitcher John Lackey were fined for their actions on Friday after they disputed a call by Baker, who was the home-plate umpire. Contreras appealed the suspension, so he was able to start behind the plate Saturday night. He went 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored.

"He was dying to talk to him," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Contreras. "He could not wait. He motioned to [Baker] from the dugout. When he got to third base, going first to third, I saw the exchange and they were both smiling."

That wasn't the case during Friday's 8-2 Cubs win. The game was tied at 1 and the Cardinals had two on and two outs in the fifth inning. Lackey was upset when a 2-2 pitch to pitcher Carlos Martinez was called a ball. Given new life, Martinez hit an RBI single. Lackey argued with Baker, and was ejected, and Contreras also was upset and slammed down his mask, which bounced and hit Baker on the right shin guard. Both Lackey and Contreras were ejected.

According to Major League Baseball, Contreras received a suspension and an undisclosed fine for his "inappropriate actions -- which included the throwing of his mask, which contacted umpire Jordan Baker." 

Lackey, 38, received an undisclosed fine for his "inappropriate actions." Joe Torre, chief baseball officer for Major League Baseball, announced the penalties.

Contreras is an emotional player, but it's a quality that Maddon likes in the young catcher.

"He's a wonderful young man," Maddon said. "He is emotional. We're all working on attempting to help him curb that a bit, but you don't want to take it all away either. That's a big part of why he's so good. It was a little difficult yesterday, but he does play with his hair on fire."

Does Contreras plan to change?

"No, I won't tone it down," Contreras said. "That's my way to be; that's how I play. If I need to get fired up again because there's a reason, I will."

Can Maddon get Lackey to tone down a bit?

"It's impossible," Maddon said of the right-hander, who he's known since Lackey was a rookie with the Angels. "Willson is in his early 20s, Johnny is almost 40. He's a dad with kids. I would never tell him what to do."

Somehow, the Cubs need to get Contreras to keep the emotions in check and learn to apply them in a more productive way.

"It's my responsibility, our responsibility to continue to talk to him and understand why," Maddon said. "[We want him] to still be able to play with that passion and enthusiasm, but when it comes to that moment, the breathing part of it, get away, walk away, turn your back. Those are the kind of things we have to get incorporated over the next several years.

"I love his passion, I love his emotion. I love all that stuff. Just the maturation process, you'll see it come back a little."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Willson Contreras, John Lackey