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Chicago Cubs receiver Willson Contreras plays ‘homecoming’ hero – and is ready to talk to Jed Hoyer anytime – The Denver Post

Willson Contreras met with Chicago Cubs president Jed Hoyer von Friday morning for the first time since Hoyer decided Tuesday to keep his All-Star wide receiver for the rest of the season.

“I saw it early in the morning when I was doing practice,” Contreras said Friday after the Cubs’ 2-1 win over the Miami Marlins at Wrigley Field. “He just walked past me and said, ‘Hi.’

“But at any time, we will talk. We are here. This is the most important thing.

No one knows if Contreras will stay with the Cubs past the 2022 season, but at least he has nearly two months to convince Hoyer why he deserves to stay with the organization long-term.

Contreras let his bat do all the talking Friday in what everyone called his “homecoming” game. His two-run homer in the eighth inning led the Cubs to a comeback win over the Marlins, ending a five-game losing streak.

“I’m happy to be with the Cubs for the rest of the year,” Contreras said. “Why not? We have very good chemistry in the clubhouse, a very good fan base. I know right now it’s not a winning team, but I know that at some point, we will become a winning team.

“They did a good job raising the farm (the system). I’ve heard a lot about prospects in the organization that are really exciting. Hopefully with time and experience they will be the best.

Cubs fans showered Contreras with love before his first inning at bat and again after his no-doubt home run against Dylan Floro in the eighth, shortly after Nick Madrigal started the inning with a single. Madrigal had the Cubs’ first hit of the game — a single leading to sixth reliever Huascar Brazobán — before the inning.

Justin Steele struck out 10 in 4 ⅔ innings, while reliever Rowan Wick threw 1 ⅓ frames scoreless for the win.

But the day belonged to Contreras, who was hugging everyone in sight the last time he left Wrigley after assuming like everyone else he would be dealt with before Tuesday’s trade deadline.

“The last time was kind of like saying goodbye, it was an emotional moment,” Contreras said. “Today was truly a high energy moment.”

Hoyer, who was unavailable on Friday – he is due to speak to reporters next week – said via a Zoom call on Tuesday that he kept Contreras and Ian Happ on because he didn’t think the return offered was worth the price. It’s hard to imagine the Cubs wouldn’t find enough talent for a few All-Stars, and keeping Contreras was an especially risky move if they didn’t re-sign him. Happ still has a year until he becomes a free agent, so it was less of a surprise that he stuck around.

Contreras hopes the story is over and he can regain some sense of normality for the final weeks of a lost season. He admitted it was exhausting to get through the anxiety of the last month, especially the last few days. When he came to St. Louis on Wednesday — the day after the trade deadline — he told his teammates “my eyes are just tired. I just want to sleep somewhere.

But after Friday’s game, Contreras said he felt “more relaxed” and could focus on the job at hand. He always wants to win and can build his stats to increase his value in the free agent market.

Cubs fans have spoken loudly about their preference for Hoyer to keep Contreras, who has repeatedly said he wants to stay, even with the freshman rebuild. Last week in San Francisco, he told reporters: “I care a lot about winning. I know this team is not made to win this year – not even close. But I also learned a lot from this team, losing.

It’s been a long season for the Cubs, and Contreras, more than anyone, has been through the grinder.

But he knows exactly where he wants to be, and he’s always there.

Whenever Hoyer wants to talk, Contreras is ready to listen.


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