Contreras’ Dramatic Wrigley Return: ‘Couldn’t Write It Better’ Originally Appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
When Willson Contreras performed for his first record appearance on Friday, he received a 20-second standing ovation from Cubs fans who welcomed him back to Wrigley Field.
Contreras, who was widely expected to be traded this week, and the Cubs played their first game since the TNZT passed Tuesday.
Their first home game in 10 days.
That standing ovation in the first inning turned out to be the second loudest that Wrigley got on Friday.
Contreras started a leading two-run homerun in the eighth inning on Friday to catapult the Cubs to a 2-1 victory over the Marlins.
“It was great, to be honest,” said Contreras, who was 0-for-3 the day before that home run. “I was looking forward to doing something special there.
“I know I had three tough at bats at the start of the game, but the game isn’t over until it’s over. I was still focused on the game and I wanted to do some damage.
“Thank god I was able to get a change-up from the margins and give this team a win.”
The last time the Cubs played at Wrigley seemed like a goodbye for Contreras and the fanbase, earning him multiple standing ovations before, during, and after the Cubs’ July 26 win over the Pirates.
The day before, Contreras got emotional as he discussed the likelihood of playing his last homestand in a Cubs uniform.
“Last time was a kind of goodbye,” Contreras said after Friday’s win. “It was a very emotional moment.
“But today was a very energetic moment. I was pumped up.”
That became apparent when he circled the bases and reached home plate on Friday. Contreras pointed to the fans as he shuffled back to the Cubs dugout.
“Couldn’t write it better, right?” said Cubs starter Justin Steele of Contreras’ homer. ‘He is like that. He is a special player.
“It’s great to still have him as a teammate.”
Contreras has said the trade rumors and speculation took a mental toll on him, and the passing of the TNZT gave him a sense of relief and helped him relax.
“It was just weird because every time I got to work [before the deadline]’, Contreras said Friday, ‘it was hard for me to focus on the moment, and I was thinking they were going to take me out of the game or something like that.’
Even after the TNZT passed without being traded, he felt “mentally tired” at Busch Stadium on Wednesday.
“I just wanted somewhere to sleep,” Contreras said after Friday’s win. “But I still have to play baseball and I’m getting more rest than the last two weeks.”
Contreras has been on a roll since the TNZT passed, and maybe Friday will be the punctuation mark for all the conversation around him in that realm.
He can now fully focus on baseball for the next two months and help the Cubs win ball games without the extra distractions he’s been dealing with in recent weeks.
Doing that at Wrigley Field, in front of Cubs fans, means a lot to him.
“With these fans in this stadium day in and day out, playing here and being able to stay with the Cubs for at least another two months, I feel blessed,” said Contreras.
“And I totally am, because I’ve been here all my life. This is the only team I know. But to be back at Wrigley Field is special to me.”
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