Cubs hope a healthy backup catcher will help Contreras at plate
Willson Contreras and Robinson Chirinos are both catchers from Venezuela. But Chirinos said the two didn't know each other very well until he joined the Cubs on July 5.
"We talk sometimes, playing against each other," Chirinos said. "Sometimes we text each other, but it was not a close relationship. Right now it's been great, he's welcomed me really good, he's been talking with me, make sure I know how our pitching staff likes to attack hitters. So far it's been really good."
There is a sizable age difference. Chirinos, 37, signed his first pro contract with the Cubs in 2000 as a 16-year-old. Contreras is 29.
The Cubs have gone through six backup catchers this season, including Austin Romine, Tony Wolters, P.J. Higgins, Jose Lobaton, Taylor Gushue and now Chirinos.
Manager David Ross talked about how keeping Contreras fresh could lead to more days at the plate like Saturday, when Contreras had 3 hits and the game-winning home run in the ninth innings. Maybe Chirinos is the guy who can stay healthy and provide the Cubs with a solid backup. He got the start Sunday in Arizona.
"Of course I want to play every single day, but I also understand our body needs at least one day a week (off)," Contreras said. "I've understood the situation. I will try to do less to keep my body fresh, but at some point it will catch up to you.
"I was the guy who needed to be back there every single day. I wasn't complain about it. I didn't care if I hit or not, I just cared about how many games are we winning. Having a backup catcher like Chirinos is going to help keep my body fresh and of course he's a veteran guy and he knows his job. We're communicating every single day, learning from each other.
"Having those four days off (for the all-star break) helped me a lot. I'm looking to have a really good second half and help this team get to the top of the division."