Cubs' Stroman appreciates last chance to throw to Contreras

When Marcus Stroman signed with the Cubs last winter, he was expecting a reload, not a rebuild.

But after watching the emotional farewell given by fans at Wrigley Field to Willson Contreras, then throwing to the veteran catcher in Friday's win at San Francisco, Stroman said he's just going with the flow.

"I think he's kind of like the cornerstone of this franchise," Stroman told reporters after Friday's 4-2 victory. "It's special. I think we're all going to miss Willson. He's still on our team, but it's almost like you know what's going to happen with the hugs and everything how it was at Wrigley the last homestand. We're super thankful for him.

"His career is just getting started. I think he's going to be a perennial All-Star, but it definitely stinks to lose a guy like Willson, a guy who comes up each and every day and competes to the absolute maximum. It's hard to find that."

The Cubs failed to win two in a row in San Francisco on Saturday. They took advantage of some sloppy Giants defense to score 3 runs in the top of the ninth, but fell short in a 5-4 loss. With the tying run in scoring position, Ian Happ grounded out to second to end the game. Happ finished the night 0-for-5 with 4 strikeouts.

Stroman kept his hot streak going on Friday, throwing 6 scoreless innings, even while giving up 8 hits. In four starts since coming back from the injured list, Stroman has posted a 0.89 ERA in 20 innings of work.

Stroman seems less likely to be traded before Tuesday's deadline, but anything's possible and he knows it.

"I don't think about any of it," Stroman said after Friday's game. "You never know what's going to happen, so why put any ideas in your head? That can kind of take you out of your rhythm. I'm super present and I just let things play out."

The Cubs made a trade Saturday, sending reliever Chris Martin to the Dodgers for infielder Zach McKinstry. Mark Leiter Jr. came up from Iowa to fill Martin's spot in the bullpen and took over for starter Drew Smyly on Saturday.

Contreras, Happ, Robertson and reliever Mychal Givens seem to be the most likely players to leave in a trade, but the Cubs might be willing to listen to offers for most anyone.

"I'm happy in life, so whatever happens, happens," Stroman said. "Regardless of the people change in the clubhouse, the attitude stays the same."

"If we get guys, if we let go of guys, I truly believe the overall mentality of the group is to go out there and compete every day and expect to win. It's not like we're going to throw in the towel. We're going to go out there with the same vibes we have now."

Manager David Ross talked about dealing with the uncertainty before Saturday's game in San Francisco.

"I don't get on edge," Ross said. "Really focused on the mindset of the day-to-day, trying to compete and win ballgames. There's enough for me and my coaching staff to worry about on a daily basis just trying to get better. It's rare that I get outside of just 'winning the ballgame' thoughts."

The Cubs got off to a rough start Saturday. They left six on base in the first four innings, then back-to-back homers by Luis Gonzalez and Joey Bart put the Giants up 5-0 in the fourth. The Cubs didn't score until a Nelson Velazquez RBI single in the seventh.

The Giants held a pregame ceremony to retire the number of Will Clark, who destroyed the Cubs in the 1989 NLCS.

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