Cubs manager David Ross wants to improve communication with players, coaches in 2021

Ross had a successful first season as Cubs manager, but he has a few things he’s looking to improve in 2021.

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“If I could go back, I probably would be a little less patient and push some ideas I had or talk a little more baseball [with players],” David Ross said of his first season as Cubs manager.

“If I could go back, I probably would be a little less patient and push some ideas I had or talk a little more baseball [with players],” David Ross said of his first season as Cubs manager.

John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

So you want to be a major-league manager?

If you do, 2020 would not have been the ideal year to begin your foray, but it was the hand Cubs manager David Ross was dealt. And despite all the challenges on and off the field, things couldn’t have gone much better during his first season.

Winning a World Series in your first season as manager would be optimal, but, realistically, Ross checked a lot of boxes in ’20 despite his lack of experience.

If you asked anybody around the Cubs or baseball what Ross’ strength as a manager would be, most would tell you his ability as a communicator. But after some honest self-scouting this offseason, Ross says that forte is what he wants to improve most.

“If I could go back, I probably would be a little less patient and push some ideas I had or talk a little more baseball [with players],” Ross said. “I’ve talked to multiple players, and I think the guys want more conversation from me because I tried to separate that manager-player spot [in me] at times.

“So maybe just a little bit more communication from me on where I think we can have things that are short term. . . . I just wish I would have brought some stuff to guys a little bit earlier that I saw, but I tried to be patient and trust in their adjustment abilities.”

The relationship between Ross and his players always has been his foundation. As his responsibilities have changed, going from player to special adviser to manager, he’s trying to ensure that he’s always on the same page with his coaching staff.

“That’s the one that’s really hit home: the dynamic where I was out of baseball and had a lot of relationships with the front office,” he said. “Obviously playing, I know what it’s like to be a player; I know what it’s like to communicate with those guys. And [with] those guys, we have built up respect and friendships. But managing a coaching staff was definitely different, where you have men and communicate with them about your wants and needs.

“Just keeping those lines of communication open. I think I can do a better job at that. I wouldn’t say I was terrible. I just want to continue to build on the relationships with my coaches and get in there with those guys and find the time to interact with everybody. You’re trying to touch all bases.”

The Cubs went 34-26 and captured the National League Central for the first time since 2017. But as he goes into Year 2 of his tenure, Ross is looking to take his game to another level.

During the 2020 season, he often deferred to his experiences as a player because, frankly, that was the only thing he could lean on while learning on the job. As expected, there were growing pains along the way, and he had to deal with an evaporating offense, a struggling closer and, of course, the requisite highs and lows of a season. Oh, yeah, and he also had the daily task of guiding a team through a global pandemic.

But Ross fared well and now has some managerial experience under his belt. And after a few months spent evaluating his performance, he’ll continue to be his own worst critic as he makes adjustments in 2021.

“I think everybody’s hard on themselves in this job because you want to be better,” Ross said.

“The wins are awesome and you turn the page, and the losses you kind of agonize over and carry into the night and try to be a new guy the next day and come in with a fresh attitude.”

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