By Bruce Levine–
MESA, Ariz. (CBS) Any bad blood that existed between Cubs manager Joe Maddon and catcher Miguel Montero is now a thing of the past. The tension stemming from Montero being upset by his lack of use late last season was hammered out over dinner between the two at an Italian restaurant in Scottsdale on Monday evening.READ MORE: Sprinkler System Floods Skokie Apartment Building While Dousing A Fire
Maddon asked Montero for a one-on-one meeting away from the ballpark. From an individual point of view, both men had seemed frustrated by how each had reacted during an incredible championship experience last season. It was two days after the Cubs won the World Series last November that Montero criticized Maddon for how he handled Montero’s role in the postseason, saying Maddon “never communicated” it to him and indicating he expected to be treated better. Montero didn’t catch right-hander Jake Arrieta in either of the latter’s World Series starts after catching him almost exclusively in the regular season.
Never one to overreact, Maddon was matter of fact Tuesday about moving on from any misunderstanding.
“Miggy picked out a place way up in north Scottsdale,” Maddon said. “Andreoli’s grocery market. This place reeked of Hazelton (Maddon’s hometown in Pennsylvania). I love it, a real Italian dude running the place. The ravioli was spectacular. We had a great conversation. We had a really good time. It was a perfect setting to have a good conversation.”
Montero was angry mostly about his own inability to help the team during the 2016 season, but the air is now cleared.
“This was pretty much opposed to doing the same old thing of talking in my room here,” Maddon said of meeting for dinner instead of talking at the park. “I just wanted to give a little different perspective to our meeting.”
The meeting stressed the present and future, according to both Maddon and Montero, not focusing on the critical remarks Montero made previously.READ MORE: 4 People Shot When Gunman Opens Fire At Crowd In Jackson Park
“It was pretty much about present and the future and really talking about the role he’s going to have right now,” Maddon said. “He totally understands, and he’s embracing it, and he’s really looking forward to it. He’s such a valuable liaison between coaches and the room because of how many years he’s been around. He’s really, really astute.
“When it comes to understanding pitchers, we have so much in common. It was a good opportunity to talk, and it was great to continue to move forward. This guy, eventually if he wants, he’s going to be a coach or a manager, whatever he wants to do, or a scout. We had a really good time.”
Montero is a well-respected figure on the Cubs, particularly with Latin American teammates looking up to him.
“I did not bring up the past,” Montero said. “The past is gone. There is not anything we can do about it. Only thing we can fix and deal with is the future. I never mentioned anything about last year. My goal is about today and tomorrow. We agree on that.”
Montero projects as the Cubs’ backup catcher behind Willson Contreras, and he’s happy to move forward from last year.
“I don’t want to go to bed feeling bad about anything from last year,” Montero said. “No, that is done. We turn the page on that. That is why the meeting went so well. We did not bring up the past. We are looking forward. He was great. We needed to talk. I felt so much relief and freedom from the meeting. There were times in the offseason I was feeling bad. I will not lie about that. I did not want to come to work upset. I will be either playing or not. I want to be happy and be a good teammate.”
Montero shouldered the blame for the drama at the end of last season.
“It was nobody’s fault but mine,” Montero said. “I was hurt at times, but I probably did not show up in the best condition I could have. That is on me. The only way I will lose my job is not to perform. That is the past. We are pulling for each other. That is our goal.”MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Cooler Weekend Ahead
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.