Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon made the moves he deemed right in order to help win the World Series. Some of the players–including Miguel Montero–weren’t too happy with those moves.
Veteran Chicago Cubs backstop Miguel Montero was upset by his role last October and his antics have continued now as the team opens camp in Arizona. After helping the Chicago Cubs win it all in 2016, Miguel Montero felt the need to broadcast his hurt feelings over how he was used in the postseason by Joe Maddon.
"“I think the toughest part for me is they never communicated with me,” he told the media last fall. “I’m a veteran guy. They talk about veteran leadership. I have 11 years in the game and two All-Star (appearances). I expected to be treated a little better … Just let me know. Put me in the loop.”"
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These comments came on the heels of a .216 average over the course of the regular season. Coupled with back injuries that played a part in limiting him to just 86 games. It’s not hard to see why Maddon opted to rely on Willson Contreras and David Ross down the stretch. Especially when considering Montero’s defensive shortcomings.
Shouldn’t be surprised
When you play in roughly half of your team’s games, you’re stuttering at the plate and you’re a liability behind the plate? It’s pretty easy to understand what your likely role is going to look like.
And the former Diamondbacks backstop seems to understand, pretty clearly, how his remarks were perceived over the course of the offseason. This week, he’s backpedaled – hard – on his previous remarks.
"“I have no problem (with Maddon),” he said. “I’m here to do my job, simple as that. Whatever it is, I’m here to do my job. At the end of the day, I’m going to stick with my players, with my teammates. So whatever happens, I got their back.”"
With Ross moving out of the dugout and into the Chicago Cubs front office, the role of veteran leader amongst the catchers falls to Montero. Entering the final year of his deal, his primary responsibility is mentoring Contreras. Who has already been named the team’s starting catcher.
While you would think he would embrace such a critical role as the team looks to repeat in 2017, that doesn’t seem to phase Montero. He seems determined to do his own thing and let the rest roll off his shoulders.
Missing the chance to be the leader they need
"“I’m not here to embrace Davis Ross’ leadership (role) or whatever. I’m here to be me and do whatever I think is the best to help my team to win.”"
Staying true to yourself amidst the excitement and pressure of being a part of this Cubs team is admirable. But this isn’t what the team needs. The young guys will naturally look up to these veteran guys with some gray in their hair – and Montero is among the oldest players on the Chicago roster.
Whether he likes it or not, he will be that leader in the clubhouse. Montero will never be as beloved or popular as Grandpa Rossy, but his importance to the roster cannot be overlooked.
Maddon pointed this out, too, reminding reporters about his clutch grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. As well as his role in helping Aroldis Chapman work through his blown save in Game Seven of the World Series.
Everyone seems clear on what Miguel Montero’s role will be in 2017. It’s about time he steps up and owns it.