Opening Day brings out emotions – ‘I was, like, swimming’ – Wilson Contreras’ future with his Chicago Cubs uncertain – The Mercury News

Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Hayward started the day with a message to members of the media.

“Welcome to the clubhouse,” he said.

Nice to be welcomed back one after the other the offseason as we just experiencedThe test of our love for the game.

The last time reporters were allowed inside the home clubhouse at Wrigley Field was on September 22, 2019, when the Cubs lost 3-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals during a season-ending collapse in the final days of the Joe Maddon rule.

There are only half a dozen players left from that day, which seems like it happened at a different time. Only the day before, Nico Horner had done the home. He didn’t hit another until a shot of two runs in Thursday’s fifth innings 5-4 win over Milwaukee Brewers,

“I remember it very well,” said Horner. “There was a lot of it in the last two years. It’s great to be here on Opening Day, to be healthy and to be with a team that’s so excited to play baseball.

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept journalists out of the Cubs’ lair over the past two seasons, which may have been fine with many players, but not for those who understand the history of the game and need it.

“You don’t know how the game is going to change over time,” Hayward said. “It may or may not be quick. But (the media) is an important element of the game, just for the players to see. You guys have a workplace here too. There’s a sense of accountability, but I also think there’s a lot of fun in it.” The feeling is — a guy has a big moment at a game night or that night, and we can meet face-to-face immediately, getting a little bit of a reaction.”

Face-to-face conversations are always better for Zoom, so I was looking forward to talking to people in person without actually unmuting myself. And in the eyes of catcher Wilson Contreras you could see that the welcome he received from Cubs fans meant a lot.

“Since I took the first step towards the bullpen before the game, it was really loud,” he said. “It was emotional. I was, like, swimming. Man, this place. … I know I’m just doing my job, but the fans here are really special to me.”

First baseman Frank Schwindell was clearly geeked out ahead of his second opening day – and with the Kansas City Royals for the first time since 2019 – in what he called a “short-term” experience.

“That’s awesome,” said Schwindell. “I felt like I never left last year because of all the hype, and came back (Wednesday). Every time we practice batting or step on the field it’s something special. There’s no bad at Wrigley There are no days.”

Thursday was a day the Cubs could savor. they don’t expect to go anywhereso that they can enjoy every day that they can prove the story wrong,

Contreras still had a sense of déj vu after being dropped from a Jake Cousins ​​pitch in the seventh inning, having treated him like a pin cushion by Brewers pitchers last season.

“I think it’s baseball,” he said. “The only good thing about it was I got to base, Ian Happ hit a double and we won the game.”

Former Cubs Victor Carrettini pacified Contreras, while Edbert Aljole tweeted from Arizona: “First HBP of many on this team to Willie,” adding some shrug emoji.

“Dude, this is just history,” Contreras laughed at Aljole’s tweet.

If it was up to Cubs fans, Contreras would already be re-signed. Instead, he’s entering his walk year with no idea whether he’ll end the season in Chicago.

“Listen, we had a bunch of guys playing as free agents last year,” said team president Jade Hoyer. “It’s nothing new for us. We have a good relationship with Wilson. Obviously if we start talking about a deal early in the season, we’re not going to talk about it publicly. Nothing different.

“We are excited to have him. He is a tremendously talented catcher, and we will see where he leads.”

Chairman Tom Ricketts has money. He wrote a letter to fans in the fall emphasizing the Cubs “will remain active in free agency and continue to make thoughtful decisions to strengthen our team this season.”

But the Cubs made only two important moves in free agency – signing an outfielder. sia suzuki and pitcher Marcus Strowman – This is the reason why there were so many vacant seats in Wrigley despite the declared crowd of 35,112.

Before the game, as the Ricketts were signing baseballs and taking selfies with Cubs fans, I shook hands and asked if they had a second to talk.

“I don’t think so,” he replied, continuing his walk down the aisle.

Nothing?

“Just happy we’re playing,” he said.

Well, you can’t expect miracles even on the first day.

Ricketts has been under a self-imposed cone of silence since being booed at the 2020 Cubs conference and after insisted that she was not booed, And now she’s on a new adventure – trying buy a premier league Football Team With your friends and a few extra billions in pocket change.

That move left some fans wondering whether they were all going toward Ricketts’ bid for Chelsea instead of the $13.99 premium draft beer and the “QB Ritas” Cubs at the $14.99 Wrigley.

“The Chicago Cubs are a closed loop,” Ricketts spokesman Dennis Culloton recently told the Tribune. “Whatever revenue it generates goes back to the team in some form or the other. So there is no revenue from the Chicago Cubs being used for football or any other sports investments. ,

But if the team isn’t putting those revenues back into the payroll, where are they really going? You’d think the Cubs would be something left for Contreras, which fans clearly want to keep.

Contreras said after Thursday’s match that he didn’t want to go anywhere.

“We have a lot of young people, and a lot of experienced people, and I think there’s a lot of balance,” he said. “I love the energy this whole team has brought since the start of spring training and I hope we can keep it that way.”

The conviction in Contreras’ voice was far more pronounced than it seemed on Zoom, a welcome thing to see face-to-face on opening day.

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