Pedro Strop insisted there’s no bad blood between the Cubs and Miguel Montero.
The Arizona Diamondbacks catcher eyeballed Strop late Monday night after a pitch buzzed behind his legs and bounced toward the Wrigley Field backstop. Home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn immediately issued a warning. After a 5-1 loss, Montero told Arizona reporters it was “a little shady.”
Cubs catcher Welington Castillo said something to Montero, sparking some tension between the National League’s two worst teams.
“Why do you think we’re trying to hit you on purpose with two outs in the ninth inning when we’re winning by four runs?” Strop explained Tuesday. “It’s just weird. I was surprised, too. We’ve never had any problems in the past at all. I don’t know why he was looking at me like that. But it definitely wasn’t on purpose.”
Strop – who hasn’t officially been named Cubs closer since Jose Veras lost his job earlier this month – said he tried to establish the fastball inside so he could work his secondary pitches on the outside part of the plate.
“I pulled it too much,” Strop said. “I think he was kind of surprised. I don’t know – he was just giving me dirty looks. I just gave it back to him.”
The Diamondbacks have tried to create a true-grit identity. They didn’t appreciate it when the Los Angeles Dodgers jumped into the Chase Field pool to celebrate clinching the division last September.
The Diamondbacks got into it with Jeff Samardzija last season at Wrigley Field, where Matt Williams, the third-base coach at the time, exchanged words with the Cubs pitcher. The next day, manager Kirk Gibson heard enough questions about it before finally giving the money quote: “Shut the (bleep) up and pitch.”
Samardzija draws the Diamondbacks again on Wednesday and the starting assignment for Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary celebration. Strop said there are no hard feelings.
“We’re in the battle right there,” Strop said. “(Montero’s) fighting for his team and I’m fighting for my team. I didn’t do anything wrong. I just couldn’t command that pitch. He thought it was on purpose and he just gave me that look. I gave it back and that was it.
“Hopefully, it’s over, because we don’t want to get in a fight or anything like that. We just want to play the game the way we’re supposed to play it and (give our) best.”