Chicago Cubs' Contreras already eager to return

Willson Contreras strode confidently into the Chicago Cubs clubhouse late Tuesday afternoon, with barely a trace of a limp and with only a small bandage on his right foot.

The Cubs placed their all-star catcher on the 10-day injured list with a strain in the arch of his foot. The move is retroactive to July 14.

"I"m on the 10-day (IL), but I think I'm going to be less than that (as far as being pain free)," Contreras said. "I just got back from the specialist. He said it's just a bruise. It's nothing to be worried about. Just take one or two days of taking it easy and not doing too much and then go back Friday to start doing all my activities."

Contreras injured himself in Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He said a combination of new spikes and the hard ground caused the injury.

"If it was me, I'd be playing today, every single day," he said. "But got to be smart."

It wasn't an easy sell for manager Joe Maddon to tell Contreras he was going on the IL, but Maddon said his catcher has matured. Asked how he would have handled this situation in 2016, Maddon replied: "In a padded room. He definitely has matured. Willson and I talk every day.

"He's been able to rein it in a lot more quickly, and that's the difference. Give him credit. It's going to continue to get better - all-star catcher twice. His numbers right now are pretty superior. With Willson, it's a relationship. It's communication. It's not permitting him to think something other than what's actually going on. It was a calm conversation."

Contreras chuckled at his newfound calm.

"It was hard," he said. "When they told me I was going to be on the (IL), I said no, I don't feel that I need to. But when I calmed down, I started thinking we're still in July and if we treat this right, right now, I won't be worried about it at the end of the season.

"It seems weird, me talking that way, but I've been learning to take one day at a time."

New guy not surprised:

Catcher Martin Maldonado was in Tuesday's starting lineup, one night after his trade from the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Mike Montgomery.

Maldonado said he was not surprised by the trade.

They (the Royals) kept me posted," he said. "Actually, I got a call (Monday) morning about possibly coming here. I was looking forward."

The 32-year-old veteran went from the fourth-place team in the American League Central to the first-place team in the National League Central. He said he'd like another shot at the postseason. He played in the ALDS and ALCS last year with Houston.

"That's always nice," he said. "We play this game to go there (to the postseason). Every game counts, and that's what this team's doing right now."

Gator getter at Wrigley:

Alligator expert Frank Robb threw out a ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday night's game. Robb rescued an alligator from the lagoon at Chicago's Humboldt Park.

Robb is scheduled to turn on Buckingham Fountain in Chicago on Wednesday.

The Cubs said Robb did not wish to do a media availability at the ballpark. Robb came from Florida to corral the gator, which garnered much media attention.

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