Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs officially activated Willson Contreras from the disabled list after missing about a month with a hamstring strain. Contreras pinch hit yesterday, striking out in the 7th inning.
Even though he’s now back, no matter how good Contreras says he feels, the Cubs are taking his return slowly and cautiously.
“As we get into the next week,” Manager Joe Maddon said via Cubs.com, “we’ll try to get him involved in the games and get him at-bats and get him on the field, maybe not play a complete game. We’re still trying to figure out the entire program …. ”
As I’m sure you remember, Contreras has been sidelined since Aug. 11 with a right hamstring strain. And although he was able to play in a couple of Minor League games with Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, the ramping back up phase isn’t quite over yet. In fact, from the sounds of it, the Cubs will have a more detailed plan for Contreras as soon as tomorrow, but the headline will probably be the same: don’t expect Contreras to start multiple full games behind the plate right away.
But don’t take that as a bad sign. The Cubs are just being appropriately cautious with their young catcher, as they should, given his relative importance both behind the plate and at it. As a matter of fact, Maddon concedes that the athletic trainers feel “really strongly” about Contreras being well and healed, and that this is all quite precautionary.
Spinning it differently, Maddon suggests we look at Contreras’ upcoming week like one final rehab assignment. He’ll get some at-bats, grab some innings in the field, and ensure the coaches and trainers that everything is actually 100% before flipping the final switch.
Naturally, Contreras is ready for more. “I feel good,” Contreras said. “I feel good to play. I feel 100 percent. I’m back because I’m ready to play.”
I don’t think anyone who knows his style expected Contreras to say anything less. He’s a competitor – through and through – and sometimes it’s the job of the manager/front office/training staff to pump the brakes on behalf of those guys.
But again, overall this is great news. Contreras is back and will look to spark a Cubs offense that has gone dormant in the last week or so. He’ll be returning to a .274/.341/.518 slash line this season, with 21 homers and a 120 wRC+.
And here’s a reminder: Contreras’ second-half slash line is an impressive .308/.376/.692 with 10 homers and five doubles in just 101 plate appearances. Hopefully that’s the guy who returns.