All-Star or not, David Ross and Cubs know importance of Willson Contreras
Maybe better than most managers, David Ross knows and appreciates an elite catcher.
That’s why he fully understands and values what Willson Contreras brings to the Cubs.
“He’s carried a heavy load,” Ross said. “I mean, he’s a big part of our lineup. He’s a phenomenal catcher and one that carries a really big bat.”
Saturday morning, MLB announced 10 players to replace previously named All-Stars at Wednesday night’s Midsummer Classic, including the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina to substitute in for Buster Posey, who was placed on the injured list Friday. Later that afternoon, Molina announced that he wouldn’t be taking part in the game to rest a foot injury. MLB named the Brewers’ Omar Narváez as his replacement.
That means Contreras, who has caught the most innings of any catcher in baseball, missed out on his third All-Star Game appearance. But that doesn’t diminish his worth to his team.
“He’s definitely been an All-Star for our group for sure,” Ross said. “Sometimes it gets recognized over the league and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Instead, Ross is looking at the silver lining in Contreras’ snub from the festivities in Colorado next week. The most-used catcher in baseball will have the longest amount of time he’s used this season to rest, recover and prepare for the second half. That’s important for a player with 13 home runs, 31 RBI, a .767 OPS and a 2.6 WAR according to Baseball-Reference, the second best on the team behind Javy Báez.
“I’m glad he’s getting some time off,” Ross said. “To be selected to go to the All-Star game is an amazing honor but selfishly, as the manager, I like that he’s gonna get 4 days off.”
Contreras’ efforts this season highlight just how much the Venezuelan catcher has developed. Ross would know that, too. He was with Contreras when he made his debut in 2016 and has managed him the last two seasons.
“There’s so much growth,” Ross said. “I think just the willingness to win, his passion for success, to be better, to want to be coached in areas to get better. The emotional space of being able to handle some of the ups and downs of a season, the successes and failures, all that stuff has continued to come for him.”
Both Matt Duffy and David Bote are nearing their return to the Cubs’ lineup.
The duo worked out at Wrigley Field prior to the rain that fell before Saturday’s Cardinals-Cubs game. Ross confirmed that the duo will head out on rehab assignments after the All-Star break.
“Duff will start his on Monday [July 19] and I think David will follow that a little later in the week,” Ross said.
Duffy was originally placed on the 10-day IL on May 25 with a low back strain and the team moved him to the 60-day IL on June 29. Bote was placed on the 10-day IL on May 30 with a dislocated left shoulder.