WASHINGTON -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., watching the team's Class A team, when he got a text message from general manager Jed Hoyer late Tuesday about Miguel Montero's comments regarding Jacob Arrieta. It didn't take long for Epstein to decide what to
WASHINGTON -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., watching the team's Class A team, when he got a text message from general manager Jed Hoyer late Tuesday about Miguel Montero's comments regarding Jacob Arrieta. It didn't take long for Epstein to decide what to do.
On Wednesday, Montero was designated for assignment after criticizing Arrieta's ability to hold runners during the Cubs' 6-1 loss to the Nationals.
"I reminded [Montero] of the standard we try to hold our players to when it comes to being supportive of one's teammates and being accountable for one's play and for being a good teammate," Epstein said Wednesday. "I reminded Miggy that we expect when something goes wrong on the field, we expect our players to take the blame and step up and proactively assume the blame, even if it's not their fault."
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Epstein said Montero acknowledged that he'd "messed up." After talking to manager Joe Maddon and some of the players, the Cubs made the roster move.
"For our purposes right now, taking everything into consideration, we thought this was the right thing to do," Maddon said. "The comments drove it a little bit, I can't deny that."
Maddon wasn't aware of Montero's comments until he got on the team bus following Tuesday's game.
"My reaction was 'Wow,' and then you try to figure out what's the next right thing to do," Maddon said.
The Cubs manager felt there were too many young players on the current roster who are "impressionable" and didn't feel they could "separate and dissect" what Montero said.
"Given where we are as a team, we felt the things he said were against what we're trying to accomplish right now and it was right to move on without him," Hoyer said.
As for Arrieta, he did talk to Montero after Tuesday's game.
"I love Miggy," Arrieta said. "As you guys know, he'll say some things from the heart and he's open and honest. That's the way Miggy is. I think he regretted what he said, he felt bad about it. I told him I'm not upset or mad at him.
"I didn't really see the comments and I don't care what they were," Arrieta said. "I know what it was about and there's a lot of honesty there. I didn't do him any favors, slow to the plate. [Trea Turner's] one of the fastest guys in baseball, so it makes it look worse than it was. It's unfortunate it had to happen that way."
Turner swiped four of the Nationals' seven stolen bases in the game Tuesday. Montero is 0-for-31 throwing out attempted basestealers this season, but was credited with one caught stealing on a pickoff.
Was Arrieta surprised that Montero was designated for assignment?
"That's not my call," Arrieta said. "Miggy and I hashed it out, we had a good conversation. That's the move they decided to make. That's the move they feel is best for the team. That's their call, and we'll stick by it and move forward."
If the defending World Series champion Cubs were 15 games over .500 and not at the .500 level they've maintained most of this season, would things have been handled differently?
"Miggy's not to blame at all for the issues we have as a team right now," Epstein said. "He should not be a scapegoat. This was an example of someone publicly not being a good teammate and making comments that weren't accountable and supportive and furthered the team concept, and we felt we had to act on them."
Said Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr.: "I have a lot of respect for Miggy -- he's helped me a lot. ... It [stinks] because he's part of our family -- he's still part of our family. All we can do is worry about tonight and go win a ballgame."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.