Cubs’ Willson Contreras: ‘I just want this to end’ appeared first on NBC Sports Chicago
SAN FRANCISCO — Willson Contreras struck out in the ninth inning Sunday, dropped his bat for the last time as a Cub and wandered to the other end of the dugout for the final minutes of the game.
At this point his teammates took turns shaking his hand and hugging him.
“Then I realized it was the last game before the deadline,” he said.
His final game with the Cubs after seven major league seasons that included three All-Star starts and the most prestigious championship in the sport’s history.
“It hit me a little bit there,” he said after the 4-0 loss to the Giants, speaking publicly for the first time since Wednesday’s emotional final game at Wrigley Field. “Tomorrow and day off. We will see what will happen.
“It’s going to be a long day,” he added. “It’s been a long, long week, a long, long month for me. But I’m ready for this to end to be honest.”
Contreras is the most certain Cub this side of closer David Robertson to be traded by Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
The Cubs’ next game, at St. Louis, won’t start for nearly two hours after that.
“It is the first time in my career that I am in this position. It’s not easy. I just want this to be over,” he said, repeating that last part four more times over the next two or three minutes of conversation.
“I’ve spoken to a few coaches about the situation,” he said. “It’s not easy to be there playing with all these rumors. Yes, I’m ready for it to end.”
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The Cubs’ second trade deadline in as many seasons began Saturday with the trade of reliever Chris Martin to the Dodgers for reliever Zach McKinstry, who hit Sunday in his Cubs debut.
Contreras said he has not spoken with the Cubs front office this week about his status or trade updates and plans to spend Monday playing video games or hanging by the hotel pool, avoiding social media and other rumours.
All he knows is that he could be out of the only organization he’s ever known by the time the team’s charter lands in St. Louis before dawn, or down the final 20 minutes before the deadline — like Chris did Bryant last year before being traded to the Giants.
“I’m really grateful for the time I’ve been here, 14 years,” said Contreras, who signed as an amateur free agent from Venezuela at 17. “But obviously this game shows you that it’s not about emotion. It’s for business. And that’s what I learned this year. Yes. It has nothing to do with feelings.”
Emotions have defined Contreras’ career since he entered as a fiery rookie during June of that 2016 championship series, eventually winning five World Series starts that fall — through a tearful two-game homestand finale a few days ago at Wrigley Field.
“We’re all going to miss Willson,” said Cubs manager Marcus Stroman, who called Contreras a “cornerstone” of the franchise. “I think his career is just getting started to be honest. It sure sucks to lose a guy like Willson, a guy who comes in every day and competes at his absolute best. It’s hard to find.”
Contreras, who said the distraction of his short stint began to get to him a week ago when he returned home for the final time, kept the media away from most of the four-game series in San Francisco , taking a break from the biggest story of the Cubs season as much as anything else, before returning after Sunday’s final game.
“I know you’re trying to do your job and I’m fine with that,” he said. “It was more like, I feel like he was saying the same thing over and over. Because I don’t know what will happen. And I didn’t want to say anything I’d regret later.”
That’s where the emotion Stroman — and his teammates — talk about comes into play.
After a solid first half of this season, the reality of what’s to come finally began to affect him on the field as he slumped from his All-Star appearance.
“It’s just hard because any time you have some free time, some free time, your mind immediately goes to trade rumors or a trade,” he said. “I wish it wasn’t like that, but I won’t lie.”
Manager David Ross: “I don’t blame him. He is an emotional player, in a great way. We’ve seen a lot of things that are important to him that he’s had to deal with. I would think that would affect anyone.”
Contreras’ impending departure will leave two players on the roster from the 2016 championship: Kyle Hendricks and Jason Heyward.
If Javy Báez provided the “El Mago” electricity of that six-year streak, and Anthony Rizzo was the face of that group, Contreras was certainly its emotional center — and more recently, even a mentor like the rest of the league’s core. sold out under the best efforts of him and his teammates to win.
“I care, man. I care,” he said. “I care a lot about my pitches, I care a lot about the game, and I care a lot about making the team better, and I care a lot about winning.
“I know this team is not built to win this year – not even close,” he said. “But I also learned a lot from this team, from the defeat. I learned a lot.”
There was nothing left to learn — nothing left to see here — as he spoke after Sunday’s game, having already taken off his Cubs uniform for the last time.
A red-eye flight was waiting. And destination unknown.
“I just want this to end.”
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