Kimbrel: Contreras wasn't ‘pointing fingers'


DENVER – Cubs catcher Willson Contreras won’t be in the All-Star game Tuesday, even though he came in third in fan voting and the two ahead of him -- Buster Posey and Yadier Molina – will miss the game.

Contreras still had a presence in Monday’s All-Star media availability, as his teammates Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel addressed the frustrations he had voiced a couple days prior.

“I don’t think he was pointing fingers at anybody,” Kimbrel said Monday. “I just think he was saying in general how we need to play better. And it’s true, we do. Hopefully we have a good break and we start off well, get on a good run.”

When Contreras said he felt “like everybody was off, everybody was distracted,” the Cubs had just fallen 6-0 to the Cardinals, their 13th loss in 15 days. They'd slipped to a 44-46 record without any indication of a turnaround. The next day, Cubs manager David Ross pushed back on the notion that his team had an effort issue, focusing instead on the group needing to come together as “a family.”

“When you’re not winning and things aren’t going your way,” Bryant said Monday, “not only when you’re not winning but the other team that you’re competing with (for the division lead) is winning at the same time, it just compounds everything. It’s just super frustrating when things aren’t going your way and collectively as a group you’re struggling.

“But sometimes you’ve just got to take a step back and evaluate things and come together as a team and talk, keep some things in-house, in the clubhouse as a team. We had a little conversation before we left and things got cleared up, and I think guys are going to be ready to go in Arizona.”

That’s where the Cubs play coming out of the All-Star break, with two weeks before the trade deadline. Winning can only fix so much at this point. The Cubs are expected to be sellers at the deadline. They’re third in the NL Central standings, eight games back of the division-leading Brewers.

Asked about the old cliché that the All-Star break “came at the right time,” Bryant chuckled.

“It could have come, maybe, two weeks before,” he said.

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