Big brother Willson Contreras serving as a mentor for the Cubs
Willson Contreras watches Atlanta Braves games with a sense of pride.
He follows closely anything that number 24 — his brother William — does and does so excitedly. Especially after his performance on Thursday where he hit a 3-run home run.
“It’s just something different,” Contreras said. “Knowing from where we come, what we go through in the minors and now seeing my brother play in the big leagues, just makes me happy and be proud of my brother.”
He takes the role of big brother seriously. When William started the season in the minor leagues, Willson tried to brighten him up and keep the big picture in focus.
“I know it’s a slow process sometimes,” Willson said in April in Atlanta. “It can take a few months, but I taught him to stay focused.”
A little closer to home, Willson is using those big brother vibes in the Cubs’ clubhouse.
The Cubs have brought in plenty of young pitchers and Contreras has made it his mission to make them transition seamlessly into the big leagues.
“Whenever I got a new guy on the mound like [Justin] Steele, [Keegan] Thompson or [another] young guy, it’s my responsibility, my job — I have more experience in the big leagues — to communicate every little detail with them,” Contreras said. “That’s something that is my responsibility to let them know, to teach them, and guide them to the right way.”
As the game caller and a veteran on the team, he knows he can play a direct role in the success of young pitchers. They haven’t faced big league hitters before in competitive games, so he can help find weaknesses in hitters and create a plan of attack using the strengths of those young arms and being ready for any situation.
“I want them to learn from day 1 what adjustments they need to make and how to approach everybody they come up to face,” Contreras said.
He’s taking that role with P.J. Higgins, too. Higgins was called up and made his major league debut against the Nationals and made his first start in the series finale on Thursday.
Contreras took it upon himself on his off day to get Higgins ready. He prepped Higgins for the Cubs’ pitchers, their tendencies, what they like to do and how to attack the Nationals’ lineup.
“He’s willing to listen, and he wants to play,” Contreras said. “He’s just smart.”
Contreras knew that was a possibility, so he spent plenty of time serving as a mentor and big brother to Higgins down in Arizona. It’s part of his nature, whether that’s with young pitchers, Higgins or his blood brother, William.