Contreras to get 1st start Sunday or Monday

June 19th, 2016

CHICAGO -- There is no official date for when Cubs catcher Willson Contreras will make his first Major League start, but it is coming very soon.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Saturday that Contreras, ranked as the Cubs' No. 2 prospect by, will start either Sunday against the Pirates or Monday against the Cardinals. Maddon is still working his lineups out, and he will see where Contreras fits best.

One consideration is which pitcher Contreras might work best with -- Kyle Hendricks or John Lackey. Maddon noted Hendricks is a pitcher who works on the edges of the plate, so it's important to have a catcher who can frame pitches well. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein mentioned Friday that Contreras has improved in that regard in the Minors.

Contreras might also be a better fit with the veteran Lackey, but Maddon said he's confident Contreras can handle himself regardless.

"I don't know that a young catcher will carry the same amount of cache out to the mound that a veteran can, but I do know Willson would go out there with some conviction," Maddon said.

Contreras was called up Friday and caught in the ninth inning of a 6-0 win against the Pirates, but did not get an at-bat.

• All signs are good regarding Kris Bryant, who missed Friday's game with an illness. Bryant was in Saturday's lineup at left field.

• Outfielder Jorge Soler worked out on the field pregame Saturday for the second straight day, but there's still no definitive word on his status. Soler did running drills in the outfield, but he is not expected to be ready to come off the disabled list by Wednesday, the first day he's eligible for reinstatement. Soler is recovering from a left hamstring strain.

"He's smiling a lot, I know that," Maddon said. "So that really is always a good sign. The trainers haven't come to me with any goal line in mind, but I know he's progressing well."

• The College World Series was on in the Cubs' clubhouse Saturday, and Cubs third-round Draft pick Thomas Hatch, a right-handed pitcher, was starting the opening game for Oklahoma State. Hatch threw a shutout in a 1-0 win against UC Santa Barbara and has not given up a run in 23 innings in the NCAA tournament. Saturday, Hatch gave up five hits, yielded one walk and struck out seven.