Contreras hopes Cubs bosses are listening
After collecting 2 doubles and a home run on Wednesday, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was told during his postgame television interview with Taylor McGregor that he'd reached 600 career hits.
"Hopefully I can keep them coming, hopefully get to 2,000 with the Cubs," Contreras responded.
Before Thursday's series finale against Cincinnati, Contreras spoke to a group of reporters in front of locker. So it was worth asking: Do Jed Hoyer and the Ricketts family know about this desire to collect 1,400 more hits with the Cubs?
"I think the message was clear right there," Contreras said with a smile. "Like I said before, the Chicago Cubs are my house; this is my house, this is my home. Been here for 14 years and I wish I can be here for 10 more."
Patrick Wisdom took his turn as the hitting hero on Thursday, belting 2 home runs, including a grand slam in the second inning as the Cubs rolled past the Reds 15-7. Christopher Morel, in his second game batting in the ninth spot, went 5-for-5 with a double and home run.
Contreras, who played his first year of rookie ball with the Cubs in 2009, can become a free agent after the season, and it seems reasonable to expect the same fate given to Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez last year -- traded away for prospects at the deadline. But, until it actually happens, he's still a Cub.
"I haven't thought about that, to be honest," Contreras said when asked if he'd like to be kept in the loop by Hoyer. "I'm just thinking of getting better every single day with my teammates ... find a way to win and keep the attitude up.
"If they're going to do it they're going to do it. If they won't do it, they won't do it, but I haven't thought about that."
Contreras leads major league catchers in most every offensive category. He's very likely to be the National League starter in the All-Star Game for the third time next month. And his younger brother William has joined him in the majors with Atlanta.
The Venezuela native thinks family stability helped give him the peace of mind to have a solid season.
"Having my whole family here in the United States helped me," he said. "That is a huge relief off my shoulders. It was hard for me to stay focused on baseball and at the same time thinking of my family all around the world. Not even Venezuela -- Chile, Peru, Panama. I'm really proud of the work I've done on that side of baseball."
When it comes to not letting his uncertain future affect him on the field, Contreras said he learned from watching Bryant, Rizzo and Baez go through it last year.
"That was something I put in my mind and worked mentally during the offseason to not let things bother me," he said.
Manager David Ross can relate. He went to Boston to be Jon Lester's personal catcher, then watched the Red Sox trade Lester to Oakland during the 2014 season.
"When you sit there and watch guys, how they handle things like that, it's a great learning experience," Ross said. "Willson took note of that and it feels like he's in a really good place, because he's showing it."
Narciso Crook made his major-league debut as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning and grounded into a double play on the first pitch he saw. In the seventh, though, Crook smacked an RBI double into the left-field corner, then singled in the eighth.
P.J. Higgins also homered. Higgins, Wisdom and Nico Hoerner finished with 3 hits each.
Before the night was over, the Cubs had another injury concern. Second baseman David Bote left the game with left shoulder soreness after a collision with Hoerner.
Joey Votto was at the plate, so the Cubs defense was in a shift, with both Bote and Hoerner on the right side of the infield. Votto's ground ball went right in between the two and just as Bote went down to field the ball, Hoerner ran into him.
Bote stayed on the ground for a while and got up flexing his shoulder. He finished the inning, but was later replaced by Andrelton Simmons. Bote had surgery on his left shoulder during the offseason.
Suzuki shines in Iowa:
Seiya Suzuki delivered an electric performance in the first game of his rehab assignment in Iowa. Suzuki started with an RBI single during a 5-run first inning. Then he added an opposite-field home run in the fourth to finish his night 2-for-3. Suzuki has been out with a sprained left index finger since late May.