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In aftermath of Contreras’ comments, Cubs working to turn the page as a group

3 years agoTony Andracki

The Cubs clubhouse was processing Willson Contreras’ candid comments from Saturday evening.

A steady stream of rain dripped into the third base clubhouse at Wrigley Field Sunday morning as the Cubs players and coaches held conversations related to Contreras’ comments about how the team has dealt with the tough stretch heading into the All-Star Break (2-13 in their last 15 games).

The Cubs catcher was unhappy with his team’s effort after Saturday’s 6-0 loss to the rival Cardinals, believing the group was “distracted.”

“We have to win as a team, but also, I cannot ask everybody like I do or to play like Baez and I play,” Contreras said Saturday night. “Everybody’s different. I know that they may be tired, but I’m here to win. I’m here to compete. That’s what I like to have from everybody else.”

David Ross didn’t agree with that assessment and has maintained throughout the recent stretch that he has been pleased with his team’s effort and focus on a daily basis.

“I think effort is something that has been here,” Ross said. “He’s dealt with some frustration. I think it’s a lot less than effort and [being] ready to play. Talking to him, it’s about being a family and pulling for one another and supporting one another in times when we’re struggling.

“Losing in an atmosphere that’s been a part of winning and guys in contract years and playing for a city they love, an organization they have a lot of history with and a lot of teammates they have history with and they care a lot about — I think balancing that with some selfishness at times is probably where the balance has gotten off. And where Willson, I think, sees a little bit of that and wants us to get back to supporting one another and being more family.”

Ross believes the experience will be a lesson for Contreras to keep comments like those within the confines of the clubhouse instead of sharing his thoughts publicly with the media.

The Cubs began the process of turning the page on the incident Sunday morning with conversations amongst the group, Ross said.

The Cubs got an early start on their All-Star Break, as Sunday’s contest was eventually postponed until Sept. 24 as part of a split doubleheader.

Before the team departed for a four-day reprieve, Ross didn’t have a specific message he wanted to convey to the group except to make the most of the time away.

“Just enjoy your break,” he told the players. “I think the break’s coming at a really good time for us. Clear your head, be ready to play when you come back.”

Ross also understands and empathizes with Contreras’ frustration, especially as the catcher has been behind the plate far more than any other backstop in the National League through the first half of this season.

When the Cubs began their 11-game losing streak, they were tied for first place in the National League Central and all the talk surrounding the team was about who they might add to the roster at the trade deadline.

Now, the team heads into the midseason break with Jed Hoyer’s front office fielding calls about what the price might be for some of the Cubs players approaching the July 30 deadline.

So a level of frustration is understandable. Expected, even.

While Ross would have not have preferred Contreras’ comments to come out in the open, the Cubs manager sees a potential silver lining stemming from the incident.

“What he said last night needs to be said in house and not to the media — I think he understands that; I think that’s a good lesson,” Ross said. “But I think good is gonna come of it, if that makes any sense. You get your feelings out there sometimes and frustration after a night like last night and kinda what we’ve been going through in general. … I think the main focus for him is just about making sure we’re all here supporting one another together.”

Ross reiterated he has seen the desired work ethic from the Cubs all season.

“I don’t think it’s effort,” Ross said. “I don’t think it’s a focus. These guys are giving effort, there’s no doubt about that. These guys work and prepare. I see it daily. There’s a sense of just making sure when things are going bad, coming together is really important.”

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