The St. Louis Cardinals and manager Oli Marmol have backtracked their previous comments on Willson Contreras, as they now move him back to catcher.
The St. Louis Cardinals have failed to live up to their expectations, holding the worst record in the National League entering Sunday (15-25).
In an effort to make some changes to the lineup, the Cardinals announced that they were taking Willson Contreras off of starting catching duties and moving him to designated hitter in the coming weeks. This announcement came on May 6, one month into the season, after signing Contreras to a five-year, $87.5 million contract.
Then on Saturday, May 13, Cardinals manager Oli Marmol announced that Contreras would start at catcher on Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers.
So, a spot start here and there for Contreras?
Well, ahead of the team’s game against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday night, Marmol said that Contreras’ start on Monday will be a shift back to him being used in a mostly full-time starting role.
Oli Marmol clarified today that Willson Contreras’ catching duties will resume (mostly) full time beginning Monday. Andrew Knizner will again be used as the reserve. #STLCards
— Katie Woo (@katiejwoo) May 14, 2023
Willson Contreras returning as full-time starting catcher, one week later
Marmol said that while Contreras will be the starting catcher moving forward, he could put him as designated hitter with Adam Knizner filling in at catcher.
After literally one week, Marmol said, via MLB.com’s John Denton, that he’s “looking forward to seeing him catch again.”
When told that Willson Contreras said his body language might have been giving off vibes that he seriously wanted to be back in the role of catching again, #STLCards manager Oli Marmol said:
“I’m looking forward to seeing him catch again.”
— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) May 14, 2023
What a flip flop by the Cardinals. They removed him from catching duties, and were going to use him as designated hitter and potentially an outfielder (the latter of which was later debunked by president John Mozeliak, per The Athletic) moving forward. The view was that Contreras was being used as the scapegoat for the struggles of the pitching staff. This was a huge announcement by the Cardinals, who had brought in Contreras to replace the retiring Yadier Molina.
Here is what FanSided MLB insider Robert Murray had to say about the wild Contreras situation in St. Louis this past week:
“And 35 games into his first season in St. Louis, they benched him. They talked about playing him in the outfield and as a designated hitter. The next day, they said they no longer planned on playing him in the outfield. Starting pitchers Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty then met with Contreras in Chicago to deliver a message that he’s wanted and that they know ‘they have a catcher for five years.’
“For years, the Cardinals have been the envy of other teams. Right now, with how they have handled Contreras, this Cardinals team is unrecognizable.”
Now one week later, Contreras is back as the starting catcher. This is quite a change of course by a team that is desperately trying to escape the bottom of the NL standings.
Since the May 6 announcement, Contreras went 6-for-29 at the plate, where he knocked in four runs, scored four runs, walked three times, and struck out nine times.
On the year, Contreras recorded a .257 batting average, a .340 on-base percentage, a .400 slugging percentage, a .740 OPS, three home runs, 18 RBI, 19 runs scored, 36 hits, 34 strikeouts and 17 walks. At catcher, Contreras has a .986 fielding percentage after recording 210 putouts, nine assists, and three errors in 222 chances.
Contreras will be catching for Jack Flaherty on Monday, looking to extend their winning streak after a three-game sweep of the Red Sox.