WASHINGTON (AP) — Catcher Miguel Montero says the Chicago Cubs are letting him go, one day after he blamed pitcher Jake Arrieta for allowing seven stolen bases in a game.
Montero posted a series of tweets Wednesday saying goodbye to fans and the city of Chicago and said on WMVP-AM radio that the Cubs had called to tell him they were designating him for assignment. The team had not announced any moves by early afternoon.
“When the team is not playing well, it’s got to go somewhere and I hope I can be the blame and I hope the team will take off from now and I can be a blame for that,” Montero said.
Montero said he called Arrieta to apologize and that the right-hander was “totally cool” about the situation, understanding that the comments were made in the heat of the moment after the Cubs’ 6-1 loss to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
“It was an honor to play for the Chicago Cubs organization,” the 33-year-old tweeted . “Chicago will always be in my heart.”
Montero will be remembered for a huge hit late in Game 7 of the World Series that ended the Cubs’ famous championship drought last fall. But tensions had been simmering since spring training over his role, and he has thrown out just one of 31 potential base stealers this season, hitting .286 with four home runs and eight RBIs in 44 games.
Still, the meltdown Tuesday night was unusually strong: Montero unloaded on Arrieta, saying the Nationals were running all over the right-handed ace who’s struggled of late because they knew he was slow to the plate with his delivery.
Trea Turner stole four bases, Michael Taylor two and Anthony Rendon one for a Montreal Expos/Nationals franchise record. Montero had a throwing error that led to a run scoring.
“It really sucked because the stolen bases go to me, and when you really look at it, the pitcher doesn’t give me any time,” Montero said. “So it’s just like, ‘Yeah, OK, Miggy can’t throw nobody out,’ but my pitcher doesn’t hold anybody on.”
First baseman Anthony Rizzo said on WMVP that Montero’s comments were unprofessional and not acceptable.
“We win as a team, we lose as a team,” Rizzo said. “If you start pointing fingers, I think that just labels you as a selfish player. I disagree. I think we have another catcher that throws out anyone who steals.”
Willson Contreras has thrown out 16 of 31 potential base stealers this season and is the Cubs’ starting catcher. After the game, manager Joe Maddon said Arrieta and Montero working together was “an imperfect situation.”
“It’s not about the move to first; it’s about time to the plate more than anything,” Maddon said. “He’s a little bit slow… It’s something that he works on. There are times he’s quicker or better with it, but guys like Turner who are premier runners, it’s really difficult to get down to the number that makes it amenable even for a Willson. The best antidote is to keep that guy off the base.”
Montero drove in what wound up being the winning run in Game 7 against Cleveland, giving the Cubs their first championship in 108 years. During spring training, Montero expressed frustration at being a backup catcher again. Maddon at the time said: “We do not win the ring without him.”
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