Cubs call on Montero to save bullpen

Veteran catcher works 1 1/3 innings in pitching debut

Cubs call on Montero to save bullpen

NEW YORK -- The Citi Field scoreboard registered Miguel Montero's pitches as changeups. Actually, they were two-seam fastballs. It was the best the Cubs' 32-year-old catcher could do.

Montero was called on to pitch in the seventh inning in the Cubs' 14-3 loss on Sunday to the Mets. The Cubs needed extra relief after starter Jon Lester lasted just 1 1/3 innings. Spencer Patton was the hero for the Cubs, going 3 2/3 innings. Montero also went 1 1/3 innings.

"I hate seeing position players up there," Lester said. "You never want to see position players on the mound."

Montero was the first Cubs position player to pitch since Chris Denorfia did last Aug. 19 against the Tigers. Catcher David Ross also took the mound twice in 2015, facing the Brewers on May 9 and the Phillies on July 26.

Manager Joe Maddon called on Montero to replace Joel Peralta with one on and two outs in the seventh. He hit Rene Rivera with a 74-mph breaking pitch -- the only one he threw -- and then got pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza to ground out and end the inning.

Montero escapes trouble

Maddon stuck with Montero in the eighth and he gave up four singles, including an RBI single to James Loney. He threw 31 pitches, 19 strikes, and it didn't appear that any topped 82 mph.

In a strange twist, the Mets used pitcher Jacob deGrom as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. He flied out to left.

"I'm not going to lie, in my sixth at-bat, I thought about [getting six hits]," said the Mets' Wilmer Flores, who notched his sixth off Montero. "I didn't want to face a position player, but he threw one in the middle, and I hit it."

Flores' bat did break on the single.

"I tried to throw one breaking ball and I hit [Rivera], and I thought, I don't want to hit anybody, I don't want to hurt anybody, I just want to stay on the plate and get them to hit the ball on the ground," Montero said.

The last time he pitched? Most likely to his son.

"It's something for the bucket list," Montero said.

The Mets pitched well in their sweep of the four-game series, outscoring the Cubs 32-11.

"It's terrible. It's just bad," Montero said of the series. "They overplayed us, simple as that. We didn't play good enough, we didn't hit good enough, we didn't pitch good enough. It was a sloppy performance for us. It's simple."

The loss capped a 4-7 road trip and certainly didn't make for a happy flight to Chicago. This was the Cubs' first meeting with the Mets since New York swept the National League Championship Series.

"We came probably too excited about playing them again and [trying to] get revenge about what happened in the playoffs, which I don't think is a smart thing to do," Montero said. "You just have to play your game and forget what happened."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for 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.