CHICAGO -- Cubs catcher Miguel Montero had to leave Wednesday's game after tweaking his right knee on a play at the plate in the sixth inning, and his replacement, rookie Willson Contreras, stepped in and belted a two-run home run in the seventh in Chicago's 7-2 loss to the Cardinals.
It's another sign of the changing times with the Cubs' catching situation.
"It was a great at-bat again," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of what Contreras did. "He's got that take-charge attitude. The kid wants to stay here, obviously."
So does Montero, but the addition of Contreras means the veteran's playing time will decrease.
"I've got no options, right? It is what it is," Montero said Wednesday about Contreras, who caught back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday. "I just have to take advantage of my opportunities when they come. I'm going to go out there and do my best like I always do."
Contreras was batting .350 at Triple-A Iowa when he was promoted to the big league team, and hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in his first big league at-bat on Sunday. He has hit safely in all four games in which he's had a plate appearance, and he has five RBIs. The Cubs called up Contreras hoping he could learn from Montero and veteran David Ross, who is retiring after this season.
"I'll try to help him as much as I can," Montero said. "He's got great potential. I"ll try to be the best mentor I can be for him."
Still, it's difficult for Montero to accept a part-time role.
"Of course, it's tough for me," Montero said. "You're used to playing, and all of a sudden, you're not going to play as much any more, it's tough. Especially where I'm at in my career now, I still feel I can do a little bit more. I don't feel like I'm ready to go home yet. It is what it is, and I can't control that. I can only control how I play and do my best."
On Wednesday, Montero had to twist to tag Brandon Moss at home plate in the Cardinals' sixth, and came up grimacing. He left the game but said that once he got to the clubhouse, he felt fine.
"All the tests are good, he felt fine," Maddon said after the game. "As of right now, I don't anticipate anything wrong with him [Thursday]."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.