The Chicago Cubs’ lineup was already decimated by the Trade Deadline, and yesterday it lost one of the best remaining long-term bats, as Willson Contreras hit the Injured List with a right knee sprain. It’s unknown how long he’ll be out, but I thought you’d want to know that the Cubs aren’t concerned about the injury.
“It’s definitely not something that’s serious,” said Jed Hoyer, per Cubs.com. “But it’s something that doesn’t make a lot of sense to play with and risk anything.”
The injury apparently happened “recently” during blocking drills, and it’s pretty easy to imagine it was one of those things where a guy might keep playing if the circumstances, and his workload, were different. It would be nuts to let Contreras play through a little something right now, and let it turn into a major issue.
The fact that catcher Austin Romine was ready to return from the IL makes the timing a little more than coincidental – it probably just made for a good time to call one of the many things EVERY catcher is dealing with at this point in the year an “injury.” That way you can manage the roster very easily, and also manage the workload on Contreras at a time when you aren’t exactly needing to ball out for wins. Hence the generic description of a knee sprain that happened “recently,” as opposed to something that happened that day and was immediately and obviously an injury.
With the comfort that this is not a serious injury in mind, I’m actually pretty darn happy that Contreras is getting this time off. The 29-year-old catcher has caught 793.0 innings this year, more than any other catcher in baseball (and 100(!) more innings than the guy in 7th place). Being that Contreras is very important to the Cubs’ 2022 season, if not the offseason (extension? trade?), getting him some rest at this point can only be a good thing.
While Contreras is out, the Cubs will alternate Romine and Robinson Chirinos starts, each of whom is a pretty capable back-up-caliber catcher. There’s a substantial fall-off here, obviously, but it’s probably not as brutal as it would have been a few months ago.