By Bruce Levine–
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — A dust-up that raised a few eyebrows around the World Series champion Cubs was downplayed by general manager Jed Hoyer on Tuesday.READ MORE: 4 People Shot When Gunman Opens Fire At Crowd In Jackson Park
Hoyer responded to the allegations by catcher Miguel Montero last Friday that he wasn’t treated with respect by manager Joe Maddon, specifically in the postseason and World Series, when Montero’s role was reduced.
“We will address this internally,” Hoyer said at the GM meetings. “Miguel is a competitor and wants to play. I understand he wanted to be on the field more during the World Series. Ultimately, it’s Joe’s job in conjunction with the coaching staff and front office to decide who is going to play. Willson Contreras got the lion’s share of the play. That was a strategy that we used. We are certainly not going to run away from that. Willson did a wonderful job.”
Last Friday evening after the Cubs’ championship parade and rally had ended, Montero publicly expressed frustration in an interview on ESPN 1000. Maddon “never communicated,” Montero said, adding he expected to “be treated a little better.” Montero also criticized Maddon’s handling of closer Aroldis Chapman in the final two games of the World Series.
“That was the toughest part for me because I never understood what my role was going to be,” Montero said, indicating there was a lack of communication between him and Maddon during a disappointing 2016 campaign for Montero.
Montero caught right-hander Jake Arrieta often 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.
Earlier Tuesday, Maddon indicated he was unaware of Montero’s level of displeasure. Maddon didn’t seem all that concerned about future ramifications stemming from Montero’s comments.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Cooler Weekend Ahead
“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.”
The 33-year-old Montero has one season left on his contract, at $14 million in 2017. He hit a career-low .216 with eight homers, 33 RBIs and a .684 OPS in 86 regular-season games in 2016.
Montero was hurt early in the season and missed three weeks with bulging discs in his back. Upon his return, he had trouble throwing and hitting. Eventually, the rookie Contreras was promoted from the minor leagues, and Montero’s playing time dwindled.
The last straw for Montero seemed to be not catching Arrieta in the pitcher’s second World Series outing.
“I expect Miggy wanted to play a ton,” Hoyer said. “Really, the essence of our postseason run was almost every guy on the roster, you could point to having a big moment. Miggy had two of them. The massive grand slam in Game 1 (of the NLCS) and the big single which proved to be the decisive run in Game 7 (of the World Series). Miggy was able to contribute a lot, despite the fact he wasn’t on the field a ton.
“I look at his comments as just the comments of a competitor.”MORE NEWS: Community Leaders Try To Find Home For Mural Dedicated To Murdered Young Activist
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.