WASHINGTON (AP) — The Chicago Cubs cut ties with Miguel Montero on Wednesday after the veteran catcher blamed pitcher Jake Arrieta for allowing seven stolen bases in Tuesday’s loss to the Washington Nationals.
Montero, who turns 34 on July 9, was designated for assignment, and the World Series champions recalled catcher Victor Caratini from Triple-A Iowa. Montero is batting .286 with four homers and eight RBIs in 44 games.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and manager Joe Maddon spoke Tuesday after hearing of Montero’s comments. The 6-1 loss dropped Chicago to 39-38 on the season.
“Right now through 77 games, we haven’t gotten it going yet. We haven’t come together as a team,” Hoyer said. “We’re fighting to come together and I think those comments were a detriment to what we’re trying to accomplish right now at this point in the season.”
“It was pretty straightforward,” Maddon said of the decision to cut Montero. “I talked to Theo last night. We both were in agreement it was the right thing to do.”
Montero posted a series of tweets Wednesday saying goodbye to fans and the city of Chicago. “It was an honor to play for the Chicago Cubs organization,” he posted. “Chicago will always be in my heart.”
Montero apologized over the phone to Arrieta, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2015.
“I love Miggy,” Arrieta told reporters Wednesday.
Still, the meltdown Tuesday night was unusually strong: Montero unloaded on Arrieta, saying the Nationals were running all over the struggling right-hander because they knew he was slow to the plate with his delivery.
“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.”
“He regretted what he said and he felt bad about it,” Arrieta said of his subsequent conversation with Montero. “I told him I’m not upset or mad at him. I didn’t even really see the comments and I don’t care what they were. I know what it was about and there was a lot of honesty there.”
Trea Turner stole four bases Tuesday, bumping his season total to an NL-leading 32. Montero had a throwing error that led to a run scoring.
After the game, Maddon said Arrieta and Montero working together was “an imperfect situation.” The manager said Wednesday that Turner and the Nationals contributed to Chicago’s woes.
“It’s not always about what we’re doing wrong. Maybe it’s about what he’s doing right,” Maddon said. “(Turner is) good, he’s fast. . It’s a team situation. When that happens, give the other guy some credit, please.”
Montero’s time in Chicago will be remembered for a huge hit late in Game 7 of the World Series that helped end 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.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo said on WMVP-AM radio 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.
“Our other catcher is throwing out 34 percent of the guys that are running on him,” Hoyer said. He added, “There’s a lot of deflection of blame in that (Montero) comment.”
Despite those throwing concerns, Hoyer said: “We wouldn’t have made the decision if not for those comments.”
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