After two nights of dinners and stories, reality will hit Cubs catcher Willson Contreras when he comes to bat in the first inning Saturday with younger brother William behind the plate for the Braves.
”It’s going to be emotional,” Willson said Friday. ”It’s going to be good, especially being the older brother. Seeing your younger brother play against you is priceless.”
Willson, 30, is six years older than his brother, who is batting .287 with nine home runs. The two worked out together during the COVID-19 stoppage in 2020, and their parents will be in attendance at Wrigley Field for a memorable experience.
”Latin culture is everything about family,” said Contreras, a native of Venezuela.
First baseman Frank Schwindel might not be available Saturday after leaving in the second inning with lower-back stiffness suffered while running to first on a grounder.
”He went three rounds of treatment and is still stiff,” manager David Ross said after the game.
Coincidentally, P.J. Higgins, Schwindel’s replacement at first, cleanly fielded a grounder by Orlando Arcia with the bases loaded and sprinted to first base for the final out of a 1-0 victory against the Braves that snapped a 10-game losing streak.
”It was a really good feeling to go at somebody,” Ross said.
Captured by COVID
Right-hander Marcus Stroman admitted he wasn’t at full strength when he returned from a 17-day COVID-related layoff in early May.
Stroman threw five innings and 77 pitches in his next start against the Diamondbacks but said his shoulder never recovered, eventually resulting in a trip to the 15-day injured list with inflammation in the shoulder.
Stroman, who is 2-5 with a 5.32 ERA in nine starts, played catch for the second consecutive day and hopes to throw off a mound next week if his shoulder responds well to more throwing sessions.
”I don’t want to go too quick,” said Stroman, who hasn’t pitched since June 3 and acknowledged he might need a rehab assignment.
Braves manager Brian Snitker was a catcher on the 1971 Macon High School team that earned the distinction of being the smallest school to reach the Illinois state finals.
Snitker’s team was documented in a book titled ”One Shot at Forever,” and Snitker said he tried to pattern his batting stance after those of some Cubs players.
”I think I was Glenn Beckert as a sophomore,” Snitker recalled. ”I was Jim Hickman as a junior. I probably morphed into both as a senior.”
Infielder David Bote was scheduled to resume his rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa. Bote, who was rehabbing from surgery on his left shoulder, experienced dizzy spells June 7.
Reliever Ethan Roberts (inflammation in right shoulder) threw live batting practice Thursday at the Cubs’ complex in Mesa, Arizona, and is scheduled to pitch on a rehab assignment Sunday at Iowa.
Outfielder Clint Frazier cleared waivers and was sent outright to Iowa. Frazier has yet to decide whether to report or become a free agent.