CHICAGO – It should come as no surprise that catcher Willson Contreras is raring to go.
The Cubs activated their hyperkinetic catcher off the disabled list Sunday but did not put him into the starting lineup. They will try to gradually work Contreras back into action after he was out since Aug. 11 with a strained right hamstring.
He played in two rehab games for Single-A Myrtle Beach. In Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Brewers, Contreras struck out as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning.
“I feel good; I feel good to play,” he said. “That’s all I have to say. I feel 100 percent. I’m back because I’m ready to play.”
Manager Joe Maddon said the Cubs would have a better idea about Contreras heading into Tuesday night’s series opener against the New York Mets.
“As we get into (this) week, we’re going to try to get him involved in the games to get him at-bats, that kind of stuff, get him on the field, maybe not play a complete game,” Maddon said. “We’re still trying to figure out the entire program or plan. But we got to get him going. We got to get him into a game.”
One key will be getting Contreras to not overdo it.
“It’s hard to ask him to not go 100 percent or back off or be cautious,” Maddon said. “It’s very difficult with him, I think. The trainers feel really strongly about him being well, healed. I think the best thing we probably can do is limit innings or whatever in the beginning as he builds back into it, almost like he would be on a rehab assignment. That’s probably the only recourse we have. To ask him to not go hard, like he normally does, is difficult. I don’t even know if I would do that.”
Schwarber sits: Kyle Schwarber did not start any of the three games against the Brewers, but he did hit his 25th home run of the season Saturday as a pinch hitter.
On Sunday, Kris Bryant started in left field and Tommy La Stella started at third.
“I really wanted to get Tommy involved,” Maddon said. “It’s just about matchup stuff. Hitting a home run yesterday was very big for [Schwarber] confidencewise. But I’ve spoken to him. He’s aware. I want to just try to match it up as well as I can right now. It’s not June or July. It’s September. We’re trying to do the best we can to match up versus their pitchers.”
Rotation roulette: Right-hander Jake Arrieta played catch Sunday as he continues his recovery from a right-hamstring injury he suffered last week in Pittsburgh. The Cubs will reassess the situation this week.
For the three game series against the Mets, they will go with three left-handers: Jose Quintana, Jon Lester and Mike Montgomery. Right-hander John Lackey will open the weekend series Friday against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.