Contreras appreciates experience catching Chapman

Rookie behind plate as hard-throwing, 'unbelievable pitcher' notches 4-out save Thursday

Contreras appreciates experience catching Chapman

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' Willson Contreras got a lot of text messages from friends and family after Thursday's game. They all saw the rookie catch hard-throwing Aroldis Chapman and wanted to know what it was like.

"My family texted me, and everybody is like, 'It's incredible, it's unbelievable,'" Contreras said Friday. "Chapman is an unbelievable pitcher. He's amazing."

Chapman got the final four outs of the Cubs' 3-1 win over the White Sox for his first save since he joined the team on Tuesday following a trade with the Yankees. Miguel Montero caught Chapman in his Cubs debut on Wednesday, and he gave Contreras some pointers.

"He told me to get as low as possible and be ready for the low fastball and high fastballs," Contreras said. "Everybody knows he throws hard, but he throws straight. You just have to let the ball come to you and be ready for the low fastball."

It isn't the first time Contreras has handled a pitcher who throws over 100 mph. He remembered working with Juan Paniagua in the Minor Leagues in 2012, and the right-hander could throw 102 mph. Cubs manager Joe Maddon admitted he was concerned about the Contreras-Chapman matchup.

"It's not that I don't trust Willy, but he has not caught this guy throwing 100 miles an hour elevated," Maddon said. "If you're sitting down as a catcher and the ball is thrown hard up here, that's a very difficult thing."

Contreras, promoted June 17, caught starter John Lackey on Thursday, and the two were able to mix in all four of the veteran's pitches. It's part of Contreras' development.

Lackey fans four in win

"John's a veteran pitcher, so more than likely, a young catcher will attempt to ameliorate and please the starter," Maddon said. "They really went over it in more demonstratively yesterday, saying, 'We need to do these other things, too.' It's a slow process and one you have to expect growing pains with."

Worth noting
Dexter Fowler did not start Friday, as he is still getting back in baseball shape after missing 27 games because of a right hamstring strain. He was activated one week ago. On Thursday, Fowler reached base three times and scored two runs, which was more normal. Did he feel that way?

"Not yet," Fowler said. "I'm still trying to get my legs under me. It's like Spring Training -- you have a good game, and then you go in and you're like, 'Oh my gosh, I haven't done this for a while.' You have to roll with the punches and get more [at-bats]."

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.