After a whirlwind week in which the St. Louis Cardinals removed him as starting catcher and reversed course on utilizing him as an outfielder, Willson Contreras said Monday that he still believes he’s the right man for the job behind the plate.
“This is the team I chose, and I chose this team for a reason,” Contreras told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before his return to Wrigley Field to play his former club, the Chicago Cubs. “I know I can catch. You can get frustrated about it, or you can work. If you watch from a different perspective, it’s going to take a little time.
“But I’m the catcher of this organization.”
The Cardinals plan to use Contreras as a designated hitter over the coming weeks. The 30-year-old will also continue to build rapport with the team’s pitchers, pitching coach Dusty Blake, and manager Oliver Marmol by catching bullpen sessions and sitting with them during games, according to Goold.
Marmol said Monday that Contreras is “passionate” about being a leader behind the plate. The skipper added that he feels the Cardinals are taking a “proactive” approach in helping Contreras get better and aren’t making a “reactive” decision because of the team’s struggles.
Contreras met with Cardinals starters Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty over the weekend, with the hurlers ensuring the backstop that they want him at catcher, Goold reports.
Contreras signed a five-year, $87.5-million contract in the offseason, intending to follow in the footsteps of Yadier Molina, a Cardinals mainstay at catcher for 19 seasons.
“I haven’t heard one person tell me I won’t be behind the plate or, ‘We don’t want you to catch anymore,'” Contreras said. “I don’t think that’s the case. I think, like I said – we’re going to keep communicating. They signed a catcher. They have a catcher. And they have him for five years.”
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