For David Ross, Day 1 of Cubs camp was a walk in (and to) the park
“I walk to the field every day and get a lot of hellos from fans,” Ross said. “I think people in the community are starting to know what my mask looks like, and my bald head.”
What better time than this to be situated close to Wrigley Field?
That’s what David Ross figured when he took up residence near the ballpark for what might only be the rest of the summer.
Think: a rookie manager walking, not driving, to work.
Think: practically a ghost town with no fans in the seats, at least not for a while.
“Well, that’s not really the case so far, and we haven’t even kicked off games,” Ross said. “There may be a little adjustment in that. I walk to the field every day and get a lot of hellos from fans. I think people in the community are starting to know what my mask looks like, and my bald head.”
Day 1 of Cubs workouts was, for Ross, a restart of the run-up to his managerial debut. It was a long time coming. Not being able to be completely alone with thoughts for a couple of blocks was more of a pleasure than anything else.
As was every step he took on the field after drills started. At one point, Ross, wearing a gray t-shirt, blue shorts and gym shoes, walked along the third-base line chanting and clapping:
“De-fense! De-fense!” Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap. And repeat.
He did this while no one was manning third, second or first base or, truth be told, any other defensive position. Rust? No. Just a guy happy as heck to have some grass and dirt under his feet.
“It’s nice to be outside,” Ross said. “It’s such a beautiful day in Chicago. We’ve got this gorgeous, historic venue to work from. It’s nice to come to work.”
That goes for getting to work, too.
“We’ve missed baseball,” he said. “You guys have missed it, I’ve missed it and people around gere have really missed just the atmosphere.”
Dishing on Q’s replacement
A day before the first workout, Ross was greeted with an update on starting pitcher Jose Quintana that had to make him shake his head. The lefty is out of action for an indeterminate length of time with the dish-washing injury heard ’round Cubdom.
“This is a new one from the manager’s standpoint, where you’re sitting in your seat and you get a phone call that has nothing to do with COVID, but you’re going to be missing a player for a while,” Ross said. “Yeah, it’s terrible to get those calls.”
Ross echoed president Theo Epstein in naming Alec Mills and Colin Rea as potential stand-ins for Quintana in the rotation when the season starts, and he threw in an additional name: Jharel Cotton, calling him a “huge pickup.” Cotton, a 28-year-old righty, was acquired from the Athletics after the 2019 season.
The Cubs will jump right into heavy action Saturday with a three-inning intrasquad scrimmage. Pitchers haven’t been named, though starters Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester all have kept up solid routines and are pretty well stretched out, according to Ross.