"He was pretty excited," Lackey said of Contreras. "The talent is there, for sure. Things are going to slow down for him. It'll get better. It was a good first step."
The plan for now is to continue to carry three catchers, and have Contreras start at least two games a week. The Cubs know there will be growing pains.
"Let him go play," Maddon said of Contreras, the team's Minor League Player of the Year last season. "If he makes a mistake, he'll make it. I know it'll be an aggressive mistake. ... If you see Johnny [Lackey] call him out to the mound, there might be something going on there. I have a lot of faith in the guy."
Before the first pitch, Contreras said he'd be calling the shots then added, "but I don't know if he's going to throw it." Lackey and Contreras did have a few conversations in-game, but it was a good starting debut for the 24-year-old catcher.
And that included throwing out Matt Carpenter at second in the ninth.
"That had some hair on it and it was absolutely accurate," Maddon said. "You look into the crystal ball in the future, and you'll see a lot more of that. He's a game changer where the other team won't go."
Contreras' family can't wait to see what happens. He said the response to his first at-bat was "insane."
"It was amazing," Contreras said. "I have no words to explain how happy I was."
He did get Sunday's home run ball from the fan who caught it in the bleachers. Contreras talked to his parents, who cried with joy, and his older brother Willmer, 27, and younger brother William, 17, who is playing for the Braves' rookie league team. Yes, two L's in the boys' names.
"My mom and dad wanted us to be special," Contreras said.