(670 The Score) Cubs manager David Ross on Friday rejected the idea that he became occasionally frustrated with the approach of former Chicago catcher Willson Contreras, who's now with the rival St. Louis Cardinals.
On with the Mully & Haugh Show, Ross responded to a report by Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic that detailed how Contreras’ preparation didn't meet the expectations of Ross and his Cubs coaching staff.
“I didn’t see any facts in there that Ken wrote,” Ross said. “And I respect Ken’s ability and what he’s done in this game. But I love Willson. I don’t have any bad things to say about Willson. As a former catcher, I would give real pause to anybody questioning game-calling and preparation. Unless you’ve caught, you should never be commenting on those things. I think Willson is a championship-caliber catcher. That’s why he got such a big contract. I think the industry showed you what kind of worth he has. He's a brother for life for me, World Series brother. I don’t have any negative things to say about Willson.
“That guy went out every single day and played hard, played for this organization extremely hard, was part of a lot of winning here. Without bashing anybody that writes stuff, I didn’t see anything in that article that would give any credibility to that anonymous stuff and no factual stuff. Willson is a really good player, what, a three-time All-Star? There’s only a couple of those in Chicago Cubs history. I think the frustration on my end always comes with losing and trying to find ways to do that. That's probably all I'll have to say about that.”
Contreras played with the Cubs from 2016 through last season, and he was part of the team’s World Series championship team as a fellow catcher with Ross. Contreras signed a five-year, $87.5-million deal with the Cardinals in free agency this offseason as the Cubs allowed him to hit the open market.
“Listening to those things, it’s really tough,” Contreras told the Athletic. “I was there for six years. I prepared myself the same way every day … I think I did everything right. That’s what I told (the Cubs) the day I walked out of there, that I was going to walk out with my head up high because I know during the six years I was there, I did my best to make everyone better.”
The Cubs signed veteran catcher Tucker Barnhart, a two-time Gold Glove winner, to help replace Contreras in free agency this offseason. He'll split time with Yan Gomes behind the plate.