MESA, Ariz. – Cubs catcher David Ross has designs on the championship part of it. But doing the full Papa John and going out like Peyton Manning?
“When you’re the backup catcher with a .200 average, I think it’s more about, `Let’s just get this guy out of the game. We’ll move on and next guy in,’ “ said Ross, who confirmed Saturday his decision to retire after the season is certain.
“Listen, if it’s about me, we’re in trouble.”
Actually, self-effacing tone aside, Ross was the unsung hero of last year’s playoff run, a galvanizing personality in a clubhouse teeming with first-year big-leaguers and veteran, first-time Cubs (including him).
“Too many times you portray players as being clubhouse leaders, and that’s done way too loosely sometimes for me,” manager Joe Maddon said. “With him, it’s legitimate. He is a clubhouse leader. In spite of not hitting .275 or better, he still maintains the stature within the clubhouse because of the respect people have for him and how he goes about his business. And when he says something, it’s pertinent. It’s good. It’s right on. He’s a different animal.”
He’s also an exceptional receiver, Jon Lester’s means for controlling the running game and one of the few guys in the clubhouse with a World Series ring.
“This isn’t about me,” said Ross, 39, who said his deep reflections on the retirement decision faded once he got to Mesa. “There’s so much good going on here.
“I didn’t come into this going, `This is my last year and I want to do all this.’ It’s just one of those things where it’s about that time for me to do whatever it is I need to do for the rest of my life, to start a new chapter. I’m excited about that after this season.”
What exactly he’ll do – possibly broadcasting or something in the game — hasn’t been plotted yet, though he has talked publicly about managing some day.
“They’d have to interview me first and see what an idiot I really am,” he cracked.
For now, his only plans are to soak in a few more “moments” during his final season (including keeping a journal he started this winter). And mostly to focus on this team this year, he said – and finish off what he and reunited teammate John Lackey shared in a text exchange two months ago.
“What he sent when he signed was, `We’re going to do this thing,’ “ Ross said. “I told him, `This is my last one, so let’s give it a whirl. Let’s do it.’ “