PEORIA, Ariz. – Tyson Ross said he wasn’t thinking about it Tuesday when he pitched against the Cubs – and got rocked in an 11-1 exhibition loss.
But the big right-hander, who makes his first Opening Day start April 4 for the San Diego Padres, thought about last July and again through the offseason as the Cubs kept talks open with the Padres trying to trade for him.
“Usually I was the player teams were trying to dump,” he said of early career struggles with the Athletics. “It was kind of weird being sought after.”
The trade talks heated up at the trade deadline last summer when the Cubs sought a pitcher with multiple seasons of club control left (Ross has two), focusing hard on Ross with the Padres and at least two of Cleveland’s young starters.
In talks that involved the Cubs’ Javy Baez as a potential starting shortstop for the Padres, the price was ultimately was too high in July, and by the winter meetings, the price got even higher in a surprisingly steep overall trade market for pitching (see Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks).
“As I stand here right now, I’m looking forward to being a Padre and leading this team,” said Ross, whose career turned dramatically for the better after his trade to the Padres and the National League before a breakout 2013 season, followed by an All-Star selection in 2014.
“It’s a young club here,” he said. “We’ve got talent. We may not have the notoriety that other clubs have, but I completely believe in these guys, and it’s something where I need to be better and step up and lead.”
That’s part of what would have made him a fit for a Cubs staff that anticipates its first homegrown group of pitchers under the current regime to start graduating to the big leagues in the next year or so
Ross, a power sinker-slider pitcher in his late 20s, seems to have watched the Cubs’ rise with interest last season.
“Since the new GM took over there, they’ve got a ton of young talent,” he said. “Obviously it was a pretty cool playoff run they had last year. It’s interesting to see how someone’s built that in such a short amount of time.
“It’s something I’m looking forward to building here. And why not us?”
Notes: Outfielder Matt Murton, who underwent an emergency appendectomy three weeks ago, hit in simulated games the past two days, including against Jon Lester Tuesday. He got two hits in four at-bats, but ran gingerly and did not play in the field. “My swing is not an issue at this point,” said Murton, who appears to be at least several days from full game action. … Manager Joe Maddon said he hopes to see overall improvement in outfield play this year in part by having some of the outfielders, such as Dexter Fowler and the shaky Jorge Soler, play deeper. The metrics from the Cubs’ “geek department” show a percentage value in that, even with the potential increase in singles, Maddon said.