BLAME GAME

Mad­don: Cubs de­mote Mon­tero af­ter com­ments don’t fit cul­ture

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY MATTHEW PARAS

Cubs man­ager Joe Mad­don has five cat­e­gories for MLB play­ers.

Each player, he says, fits into one of the cat­e­gories at dif­fer­ent stages of their ma­jor league ca­reers. There’s happy to be here, sur­vival, won­der­ing how long they can stay in the ma­jor leagues, want­ing to get paid as much as pos­si­ble and fi­nally: solely con­cerned with win­ning.

So when catcher Miguel Mon­tero point­edly blamed his pitcher, Jake Ar­ri­eta, for the Na­tion­als’ seven stolen bases dur­ing a 6-1 loss to Wash­ing­ton Tues­day, Mad­don and Cubs pres­i­dent Theo Ep­stein knew Mon­tero, a two-time All-Star, had to go. The Cubs des­ig­nated Mon­tero for as­sign­ment Wed­nes­day, ef­fec­tively end­ing his time in Chicago.

The rea­son? The Cubs, de­spite win­ning the World Se­ries last year, are too young, too im­pres­sion­able to have those sort of com­ments in a club­house. Chicago has floated around .500 all year and has trot­ted out line­ups with in­ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers be­cause of in­juries.

“You re­ally want to be care­ful,” Mad­don said. “Vet­eran play­ers can both be good and bad. Vet­eran play­ers can re­ally el­e­vate a group and vet­eran play­ers can re­ally drag down a group, de­pends on their agenda.”

Mad­don said the Cubs have so many young play­ers con­cerned with not mak­ing mis­takes — “Stage 2” as he calls it — that club of­fi­cials felt it was im­por­tant to send a clear mes­sage re­gard­ing com­ments like Mon­tero’s.

Mon­tero’s rant came af­ter the Na­tion­als tied a fran­chise record for stolen bases, in­clud­ing four by Trea Turner.

“It re­ally sucked be­cause stolen bases go to me,” Mon­tero said. “And when you re­ally look at it, the pitcher doesn’t give me any time . ... that’s the rea­son they were run­ning left and right to­day, be­cause they know he was slow to

the plate. Sim­ple as that.”

By the time the Cubs ar­rived to Na­tion­als Park on Wed­nes­day, Mon­tero was gone. Cubs gen­eral man­ager Jed Hoyer said they wouldn’t have made the de­ci­sion to des­ig­nate Mon­tero if it weren’t for his com­ments.

The move came down to be­ing a good team­mate.

“We have to have each other’s back,” Hoyer said. “Ev­ery­one who plays a team sport knows you don’t de­flect blame onto a team­mate or team­mates af­ter a game. That’s a pretty sim­ple rule and ob­vi­ously that was vi­o­lated.”

Prior to Mon­tero be­ing re­leased, first base­man An­thony Rizzo ap­peared on a Chicago ra­dio show Wed­nes­day morn­ing and called Mon­tero a selfish player, point­ing out that the Cubs’ start­ing catcher, Wil­son Con­tr­eras throws run­ners out.

Mon­tero was 0-for-31 in throw­ing out base steal­ers this sea­son.

Rizzo stood by his com­ments in meet­ing with re­porters. He de­fended the team’s chem­istry as well dur­ing an un­even sea­son.

“I think we have a great club­house,” Rizzo said. “Guys get along re­ally well and we’re all hav­ing a good time. We’re not 25 games over .500, so we’ve got to keep win­ning, keep play­ing good base­ball and come to­gether. Con­tinue to fight.”

Mon­tero thanked Chicago in a se­ries of tweets af­ter be­ing de­moted. The 33-year-old catcher played a big part in the Cubs’ rise to the top. He coined the mantra “We Are Good,” yelling it dur­ing the Cubs’ 2015 sea­son. Last year, Mon­tero hit a grand slam in the Game 1 of NLCS in the bot­tom of the first to help beat the Los An­ge­les Dodgers.

He also pri­vately apol­o­gized to Ar­ri­eta, who took the com­ments in stride. Ar­ri­eta noted that Mon­tero’s main point was right — he has been slow off the mound.

“I love Miggy,” Ar­ri­eta said. “As you guys know, he’ll say some things from the heart and the way he feels. And he’s open and hon­est. That’s what Miggy is. I think he re­gret­ted what he said and I told him I’m not up­set or mad at him . ... It’s un­for­tu­nate it had to hap­pen that way, but it is what is.”

Na­tion­als man­ager Dusty Baker was un­aware Mon­tero had been DFA’d in his pre-game press con­fer­ence. But he has had ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ers and team­mates speak­ing out against each other through the press.

“That’s go­ing to hap­pen,” Baker said. “There’s a cool down pe­riod in be­tween. That’s why I’m sup­posed to have a 15-minute cool down pe­riod be­fore I see [the me­dia] . ... You try to let these things stay in house. Some­times they get out there. You try not to let it fes­ter on your team.”

The Cubs made the swift de­ci­sion to move on from Mon­tero. Mad­don ac­knowl­edged they prob­a­bly wouldn’t have made the move if Mon­tero had been a more pro­duc­tive player or if the team was 30 games over .500 (“But if you’re 30 games over, this prob­a­bly never oc­curs,” he said.)

“We’ve been about be­ing a very tightly knit group, been about sup­port­ing one an­other,” Mad­don said. “It’s hard to de­fend those kind of com­ments when you’re try­ing to build that kind of cul­ture.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The ball flies past Chicago Cubs third base­man Jeimer Can­de­lario as Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als out­fielder Michael Tay­lor steals third in the fourth in­ning on Tues­day. Cubs catcher Miguel Mon­tero was given an er­ror on the play. The Na­tion­als set a fran­chise record with seven stolen bases in the game.

Chicago Cubs start­ing pitcher Jake Ar­ri­eta was blamed by his catcher Miguel Mon­tero for the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als’ seven stolen bases in Tues­day’s loss, lead­ing to the catcher’s de­mo­tion.

Mon­tero

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