(CBS) Second-year catcher Willson Contreras admits that when he was called up to the big leagues in June 2016, it was initially difficult to get on the same page as the Cubs’ starters.
While David Ross served as Jon Lester’s personal catcher and Miguel Montero often was behind the plate for Jake Arrieta, Contreras often worked with Kyle Hendricks. So when did the two really build trust in each other?
Contreras pointed to the World Series, during which he twice caught Hendricks.
“When I first got called up, it wasn’t easy, because I thought like, ‘OK, I want a fastball inside.’ No,” Contreras said alongside Hendricks at the Cubs On-Deck Luncheon on Wednesday on 670 The Score. “Then, ‘Changeup, OK, let’s do a changeup.’ But once I got to know Kyle, after that, he didn’t shake me off. Even in the World Series, he shook me off like twice. That became a confidence, that became a trust that we created with each other.”
Contreras added with a laugh that he doesn’t get mad on the few occasions Hendricks does shake him off, saying “No, because he’s a smart guy. I know that he knows what he wants to do.” The experiences of last season served as a launching point for this season, as Contreras is now the team’s starting catcher and Hendricks sports a 4-3 record with a 4.09 ERA after a tough start to the year.
“This year’s been pretty good,” Contreras said. “I feel proud of myself.
“I’ve been learning a lot. I’ve been improving so much since last year. Like Kyle said, I’ve slowed the game down as much as possible, am learning my pitchers.”
A native of Venezuela, Contreras also called it a “dream come true” to play for the Cubs.
“I want to play here 20 years, especially in this city,” Contreras said. “I would like to stay here for this city.”
Listen to the full interview with the two Cubs as they sat down for an hour with the Spiegel and Parkins Show.