David Ross: Cubs interview ‘good,’ won’t address presumption he is favorite for manager job

Cubs special assistant is fourth candidate to interview for the vacancy created when Joe Maddon was fired. The team plans to interview more candidates next week, with a source saying Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Yankees special assistant Carlos Beltran are on the list.

SHARE David Ross: Cubs interview ‘good,’ won’t address presumption he is favorite for manager job
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Cubs president Theo Epstein, managerial candidate David Ross and general manager Jed Hoyer (L to R) take a coffee break from Thursday’s manager interview.

A day after Joe Girardi spent eight hours interviewing for the Cubs’ managerial opening, presumptive favorite David Ross took about half as long at the Cubs’ offices Thursday.

The process with the front office’s most familiar candidate was “good,” Ross said as he walked briskly from the building, declining to stop for a media interview.

Ross briefly exchanged pleasantries and suggested he would have time to talk more after the club makes its decision, “either way, whatever they say.”

Asked about the belief by a lot of people that he’s team president Theo Epstein’s favorite to land the job, Ross said only, “I don’t know what a lot of people mean,” then turned a corner and headed into the distance.

What’s clear is that the family considerations that prevented him from considering the Cubs’ bench-coach job a year ago are no longer in play.

A widely respected teammate throughout a 15-year playing career, Ross has been a special assistant to Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer since finishing that career as Jon Lester’s catcher on the Cubs’ 2016 championship team.

Ross, 42, was the fourth candidate to interview for Joe Maddon’s old job, including three in-house candidates (also bench coach Mark Loretta last week and first base coach Will Venable on Monday).

The Cubs plan to interview more candidates next week in a process that could take much of October to complete.

A source said Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Yankees assistant Carlos Beltran are on the Cubs’ list of potential candidates. Espada isn’t likely to be available to talk until after the Astros finish their postseason run; Beltran is available and reportedly is scheduled to interview with the Mets, as well.

The Cubs would not comment on potential candidates, only confirming the four already known to have interviewed.

Ten teammates from the 2016 championship squad might be playing for Ross next season if he gets the job, but Epstein said those relationships will have little bearing on the final decision.

What certainly is part of the equation is the credibility and gravity Ross might bring to the clubhouse based on his willingness as a veteran player to console, encourage, laugh with and get in the faces of teammates.

Ross called the Cubs’ job “one of the best in baseball” during a “Baseball Tonight” broadcast on ESPN at the end of the season.

“My heart is drawn to that dugout a little bit,” he added.

Girardi, 54, is the only one of the six known candidates with big-league managing experience — something Epstein said at the outset of the process is desirable but not mandatory.

“There are ways for that to be overcome and a lot of different ways to get experience in this game,” Epstein said then.

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First-year managers have had unprecedented success the last two years, including Rocco Baldelli winning 101 games this year with the Twins in his first season.

Aaron Boone won 100 and 103 games his first two seasons with the Yankees, including the 2019 team that was the first to advance past the Division Series round this month.

Boone’s 2018 team in his rookie year? Those Yankees lost to first-year manager Alex Cora’s 108-win Red Sox team, which went on to win the World Series.

“Rossy is a very attractive candidate, and he’s going to be evaluated on the merits,” Epstein said, “for what he can bring to the table as a major-league manager, given his skills, given his experiences, given his worldview, given what he knows about winning, just like every other managerial candidate.”

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Ross greets an old friend outside the Cubs’ offices Thursday.

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