CHICAGO -- A single sheet of paper sat on Willson Contreras chair in front of his locker when the Chicago Cubs rookie showed up for practice on Friday. It was a form letter asking players to list the names of people picking up the four tickets set aside for family members ahead of the NL Championship Series opener.Someone asked Contreras who would be picking up his.Nobody, the 24-year-old catcher said, trying to force a grin.Behind that rueful smile is a long story. Baseball provided Contreras a path out of the tough times back home in Venezuela and swept him to the top of the major leagues. But even that lofty position hasnt enabled him yet to get his parents, Olga and William, a visa to follow him to the United States. Their application for a temporary visa to watch him during the playoffs wasnt successful, either.Everybodys back home, Contreras confirmed. Its hard to get them here at this time of the year.They will be watching on TV from a new home he bought them, in a neighborhood with security guards. It was there that they saw their older son drive a tying single up the middle in Chicagos opening-round clinching win against the Giants.Contreras even has food delivered to their home, so his parents dont have to venture out to the grocery store, where long lines await. But fears about their safety never slip his mind for long.Hopefully, Conteras added a moment later, next year, theyll be here.Wait until next year has been the Cubs unofficial motto for a century and counting. Yet it carries just as much longing for the young Venezuelan as the most grizzled denizen of the citys North Side. Contreras made it to these shores a half-dozen years ago, followed soon after by younger brother, William, who is playing in the Braves organization. The boys never forget on whose shoulders they stood, making that huge step possible.At this time last year, Contreras was playing Double-A ball in Tennessee and he paused to carve Ernesto into the dirt before each at-bat, honoring the grandfather whod died back home barely two months earlier. This fall, he worries about his parents safety in a cash-strapped country where kidnapping the relatives of a famous baseball player is viewed as a lucrative business.In 2011, kidnappers there grabbed Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos and held him for ransom; fortunately, Ramos was eventually rescued.We dont talk about it that much, but we know what each other is going through, said Albert Almora Jr., another rookie whose locker is close by. Sometime, after a game, you can come here and see certain guys text messaging and you know theyre talking to family -- Willson, with his folks, in my case, its my dad. Hes fighting prostate cancer. ... So we make it a point to check in with each other every so often.Cubs manager Joe Maddon knew Contreras situation when the team called him up from Triple-A at midseason. As if learning to call games for a veteran and sometimes-finicky staff and bullpen wasnt hard enough, the manager had planned to pile more on his plate. Maddon wanted the one-time infielder to try his hand at first base and the outfield as well as behind the plate.Contreras rewarded Maddons faith by homering in his first big-league at-bat. His teammates made him feel right at home by shooing him out of the dugout soon after, reminding Contreras he still had to warm-up the relievers back in the bullpen. But hes made a good argument for deserving a regular spot in the lineup by hitting no matter which glove he was wearing. But just as impressive, Maddon says, is Contreras ability to compartmentalize all those jobs while still keeping one eye on his family a continent away.As a parent and as a manger, if my kids arent having a good day, then Im not. But when your family is down there, its hard to stay right here, Maddon recalled recently.Having his fiancee here has brought a bit of home along with him. So has finding a handful of seafood restaurants and long walks along Lake Michigan, which is as close to the beach near Contreras home in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, as hes likely to find for the moment.It will have to do.Im able to separate my personal situation from the game and I know that everybody back home is OK, Contreras said finally. So Ill be fine.---Jim Litke is a sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and https://Twitter.com/JimLitke http://www.atleticomadridpro.com/Kids-Diego-Godin-Jersey/ . Coach Mike Munchak says Fokou stretched ligaments in his left knee Oct. 13 against Seattle, which could keep out up to five weeks even though the linebacker didnt need surgery. http://www.atleticomadridpro.com/Kids-Antonio-Adan-Jersey/ . Vettel, who has already clinched his fourth straight F1 title, enters the finale with a chance to equal Michael Schumachers 13 victories in a year and match the record of nine consecutive wins by Alberto Ascari in the 1952 and 1953 seasons. http://www.atleticomadridpro.com/Kids-Saul-Niguez-Jersey/ . Thats not a comment on the suspension that banished the Portland Winterhawks general manager and coach from his Western Hockey League teams bench for most of the 2012-13 season. http://www.atleticomadridpro.com/Kids-Jose-Gimenez-Jersey/ . Blackwood, 28, has played the last three seasons in the San Diego Padres system, including the past two summers with Class AA San Antonio of the Texas League. http://www.atleticomadridpro.com/Kids-Blank-Jersey/ .C. -- Chris Thorburn thinks one of the reasons the Winnipeg Jets have been successful under new coach Paul Maurice is that theyre playing together as a team. Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point but says that the naming of his NHL expansion team doesnt cross any lines with the U.S. Army, whose longtime elite parachute team also uses the nickname Golden Knights.I have complete respect for the US Army and all that it does for our nation, Foley told ESPN in an email after news surfaced that the U.S. Army was looking into the official naming of the 31st NHL franchise last week because of the shared nickname.Our development and use of the name Vegas Golden Knights was based upon Nevada being the largest gold producing state in the country and the golden tones of the Las Vegas strip, Foley wrote.Our use of the Golden Knights is distinctive from the Army Golden Knights just as the N.Y. Rangers are distinctive from the Texas Rangers or the Arizona Cardinals are distinctive from the St. Louis Cardinals, he added. There already exist the Clarkson College Golden Knights and many other Golden Kniights across the country.ddddddddddddReports that the Army might have an issue with the Las Vegas teams nickname first appeared in The Fayetteville Observer in North Carolina. The Army parachute team is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.Foley trademarked three names -- Silver Knights, Desert Knights and Golden Knights -- leading up to the unveiling of the expansion teams name. The nickname Golden Knights was introduced at a ceremony outside the teams arena off the Las Vegas Strip on Nov. 22. Foley told ESPN.com that he cleared the use of the nickname with the Clarkson University Golden Knights in Potsdam, New York, before proceeding.League officials say they have no concerns about the propriety of the naming of the newest NHL team, which is scheduled to begin play next season.I dont expect an issue, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Wednesday morning. 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