ST. LOUIS — In Joe Maddon’s final game as the Cubs’ manager Sunday, bench coach Mark Loretta delivered the lineup card to home plate.
And on ESPN’s ‘‘Baseball Tonight’’ broadcast later in the day, analyst and former catcher David Ross — a special assistant in the Cubs’ front office — said this about the team’s managerial vacancy: ‘‘I think it’s one of the best jobs in baseball. I’ve got a lot of close ties with those guys. I think the interest would be there. I think my heart is drawn to that dugout a little bit.’’
Say hello to the early favorites to replace Maddon.
Ross has been considered the favorite since team president Theo Epstein made Maddon a lame duck by declining to offer him an extension after last season.
‘‘I’ve talked to him about it before,’’ said first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who counts Ross among his top two or three mentors in the game. ‘‘He’s in a really good place at home with his family and what he’s doing, and he’s happy. [There are] pros and cons.
‘‘Can it work? Yes. But I don’t know what direction we’re going in.’’
Left-hander Jon Lester, one of Ross’ best friends in baseball, said that he hasn’t talked with him about it specifically but that the dynamic of having a friend and former teammate make the transition to manager/boss could work.
It was a honor having the opportunity to play for Joe Maddon and winning a Championship with him during one of the greatest runs in the history of the Chicago Cubs. I learned a tremendous amount from him and wish him continued success in this game. pic.twitter.com/xr0OLFSTiZ— David Ross (@D_Ross3) September 29, 2019
‘‘If that happens, you just have to learn as you go,’’ Lester said. ‘‘If it is Rossy, then I’m sure we’ll butt heads, just like I butted heads with Joe. At the same time, I’ll respect the hell out of him, and he’s my boss.’’
Four to watch:
From the moment he was hired from the Padres’ organization, the former player with front-office experience was viewed as Maddon’s possible replacement.
‘‘You can read things into it,’’ Loretta said at the time. ‘‘But . . . that was not on my radar and nothing we talked to [general manager] Jed [Hoyer] and [president] Theo [Epstein] about.’’
One of the most popular players on the 2016 championship team, Lester’s friend and personal catcher has remained close to the organization and made no secret of his desire to manage.
Another popular former Cub with managing aspirations, the MLB Network studio star stopped by Citi Field this month and chatted for about a half-hour with Epstein, who considered him for the bench-coach job last winter.
Before DeRosa left, a Chicago writer asked him about the Cubs’ managing job. He laughed and said something vague about managing someday.
The ex-Cub and former Marlins and Yankees manager is included on these lists by some corners of the Chicago media every time the Cubs’ managing job opens. Warning: Don’t believe everything you read or hear in the media.