Willson Contreras shares when he started thinking about playing for Cardinals
Veteran catcher Willson Contreras signed a five-year, $87.5 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals earlier this week. It was a deal he began dreaming of long before it was even a realistic possibility.
On Friday afternoon, the Cardinals officially introduced Contreras and he had an interesting revelation for everyone in attendance.
Contreras said he started imagining himself as a Cardinal the day he saw Albert Pujols hit his 695th homer. Said he was on the IL, watching from the bench, envisioning playing for a team with that kind of tradition and celebration.
— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) December 9, 2022
Albert Pujols hit his 695th home run on September 4. At the time, Contreras was still a member of the Chicago Cubs, where he had spent the first seven years of his career. He was on the IL nursing an ankle injury at the time but witnessed the homer from the visiting dugout.
The Pujols homer was of obvious consequence. It was a dramatic pinch-hit blast in the bottom of the eighth inning of a scoreless game. It helped propel the Cardinals to victory over their long-time rivals and, eventually, helped seal the NL Central.
It seems odd that Contreras would begin dreaming about playing for a rival while still in a Cubs uniform. And although the Cardinals are rich in tradition, it’s not as if Chicago is a shallow pool in that area. They’ve existed since 1903 and Contreras was on their 2016 roster when they won the World Series for the first time since 1908. That win sent the entire baseball world into a frenzy and Chicago celebrated in spectacular fashion.
You had better believe the Cubs and Contreras’s former teammates will remember these comments when the two teams meet in 2023.