Cubs’ Contreras Deflects Disappointment

CHICAGOWillson Contreras seemed as surprised as many fans when the top catching prospect was bypassed by his Triple-A Iowa backup when the Cubs needed an injury replacement at the end of April.

When Chicago called up journeyman backstop Tim Federowicz, the 23-year-old Contreras reacted with grace. “I’ll keep playing hard and working hard. That’s all I can control,” he wrote from his Twitter account.

It was last May when the buzz surrounding catcher Kyle Schwarber as a possible big league contributor began

But even after his hot April at Iowa, Contreras faces a much different player-development dynamic, and much different set of potential needs than Schwarber did.

Last year the Cubs needed the offensive lift Schwarber eventually provided, during a season they shocked the National League with their rise to the wild card. This time around, the club is more complete, the pitching corps among the best in the majors so far.

With regular catcher Miguel Montero expected to need only a short stay on the disabled list, Federowicz—who spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues with the Dodgers—provided a known quantity.

“You’re looking at the overall development of Contreras,” manager Joe Maddon said of the Venezuelan catcher who signed in 2009 and who had hit .353/.423/.485 in 18 games at Iowa. “In your mind’s eye, with a guy like Willson, you’re probably going to wait till the second half, hopefully, to get him involved here.

“Contreras’ time will come.”

If anything, he helped himself the way he handled it.

“I’m not disappointed at all,” Contreras told the Des Moines Register. “I know that I’m going to be there soon. I’m going to keep working here to get out of here soon.

“Once I get there, I will never be back.”


• Double-A Tennessee righthander Duane Underwood made his season debut on April 29 after being sidelined in spring training with forearm tightness. He allowed a run on four hits, with two strikeouts and one walk in four innings.

Tennessee righthander Paul Blackburn recorded an 0.29 ERA in five April starts, at one point going 30 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. The 2012 supplemental first-rounder walked just five batters all month.

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