Javy Baez didn’t charge and took his time fielding a ground ball off Hunter Pence’s bat in Game 1 of the NLDS Friday night. As usual, Baez was smooth as silk, throwing out Pence – but by half a step.
Too close for comfort. Especially in a scoreless postseason game.
So catcher David Ross did the kind of thing he does, the sort of thing that adds to his value as a part-time catcher.
“I looked at him like, you know, get your stuff together, what are you doing?’’ Ross said before Game 2 Saturday. “And he gave me a ‘my bad.’ ‘’
Ross said Baez, playing second base, explained he didn’t have a good grip on the ball.
“I said, ‘They’re going to play just like we do, they’re going to bust it down the line. Doesn’t matter if it’s a soft ground ball, they’re not going to give up. Good teams don’t give up.’’
Good teams have guys like Ross, who is retiring after this season, around, to “coach” and communicate to young players like Baez in a way that’s well-received and acted on. It’s moments such as that which makes Ross managerial material.
“It’s little things like that, explaining the situation,’’ Ross said.
Like when to go all out and try to take an extra base or when not to, like when you’re down three runs.
“Little things like that is just teaching the game and that’s why I try to explain these things without being the old grump guy who always complains to these guys. And I guess I’m doing it OK because they have said some nice things, luckily, because I’m not always real nice about it.’’
Ross, who did not start with Willson Contreras getting the call from Joe Maddon to catch Kyle Hendricks Saturday, had a strong game Friday, throwing out Gorkys Hernandez trying to steal second in the first and picking off Conor Gillaspie in the third inning, erasing a leadoff single for the Giants in each case. Cubs legend Gabby Hartnett, in the 1935 World Series, was the last player to throw out a runner stealing and pick one off in the same postseason game.
With a wife and kids beckoning, Ross, 39, plans to retire after the season. He’ll go home [he’s “99.9 percent” certain of retirement, he reiterated Saturday] and perhaps contemplate the possibility of taking the necessary steps to get into managing. Cubs manager Joe Maddon has said he’s suited for the job.
“It’s hard to comment when you don’t have any job offers,’’ he said. “I got one job to do right now and I’m going to do that to the best of my ability.”