(CBS) Amid the celebration and chaos of the Cubs’ championship came a darker moment last Friday afternoon, when veteran catcher Miguel Montero publicly expressed his frustrations with his reduced role in the World Series and how manager Joe Maddon handled the situation.
Montero believed Maddon and the Cubs “never communicated” with him, he told ESPN 1000 in an interview, adding he expected “to be treated a little better.” Montero caught right-hander Jake Arrieta almost exclusively during the regular season and did so in Game 3 of the National League Divisional Series and Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. But rookie Willson Contreras caught both of Arrieta’s starts in the World Series.READ MORE: Two Simeon High School Students Killed In Shootings Four Hours Apart
“That was the toughest part for me because I never understood what my role was going to be,” Montero said.
Montero also was critical of Maddon’s use of closer Aroldis Chapman in the final two World Series games.
Montero was on the Cubs’ postseason roster but relegated to being the team’s third catcher behind Contreras and fellow veteran David Ross. In his limited role, Montero still managed to come up with some clutch hits, blasting the game-winning pinch-hit grand slam in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series and drilling an RBI single in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series that proved to be the difference in an 8-7 win.
On Tuesday, Maddon shared his view, wishing Montero had come to him instead of publicly venting. Maddon also explained that Montero’s reduced role in the World Series was a direct reflection on the Indians having a superb running game. Montero struggled to throw out runners all season.READ MORE: Rev. Jesse Jackson Released From Rehab, Family Says He And Wife Are Now COVID-Free
“I have no idea,” Maddon said on 670 The Score. “I wish he’d come and talked to me. Because I didn’t realize I’d hurt his feelings. I didn’t know about it. I did not. Because we had talked a lot prior to the end of the season, you go into the playoffs, I didn’t really read anything negative of him coming toward me or whatever. So I’m kind of surprised with that. Of course, I’ll get an opportunity to speak with him at some point. But believe, I have no idea why he felt that way. I think if you look at what happened, a big part of our victory over Cleveland was to control the running game. All I’d heard about coming into it was how good they were at base-stealing, base-running. All their base-running metrics were over the top. If you go back and review each one of those games and see how we did controlling the running game, I think that was also a big part of us winning.
“I’m not denigrating Miggy. It’s just a matter of Contreras is so good and David is so good at it, so that was part of the decision-making too.”
The 33-year-old Montero has one season left on his contract, at $14 million in 2017. Montero hit .216 with eight homers, 33 RBIs and a .684 OPS in 86 regular-season games in 2016.
How this episode affects his status moving forward with the Cubs remains to be seen, though it’s worth noting Maddon seemed more curious by it all than upset.MORE NEWS: City To Install Or Upgrade 100 Miles Of Bike Lanes Over Next Two Years
“Had we had a different opponent in the playoffs, a team that maybe had not run as much, we probably would’ve played Miggy a little more often, I’d imagine,” Maddon said. “I can’t tell you that for sure, but we may have.”