David Ross relying on catcher Willson Contreras to lead Cubs’ young group

“I feel like he definitely understands his importance to this team,” Ross said before Saturday’s game.

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Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs

Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

After the Cubs’ trades last week, catcher Willson Contreras has become a focal point more than ever. He’s one of a handful of leaders left in the team’s clubhouse and is easily the Cubs’ best offensive player.

Being in that position could put a lot of pressure on a player to produce on a nightly basis. But manager David Ross doesn’t see Contreras changing and has relied on him to be a key voice with several new players.

“I feel like he definitely understands his importance to this team,” Ross said before the game Saturday against the White Sox. “His leadership is even more in the forefront. I think he probably may put a little more pressure on himself because he’s the two-time All-Star in the group, especially with [Jason Heyward] on the shelf.

“But I think he’s trying to lead these young guys, and he’s understanding it’s a young staff that he has to impact in a positive light. And he’s dealing with a lot of new pitchers, especially some bullpen guys that he’s having to navigate, and he’s still learning [them].”

Contreras has been vocal about wanting to lead the group, and the Cubs could use his edge and voice in the last two months of the season.

‘‘I’m just gonna focus on leading the new guys on the right path the right way,’’ Contreras said last week. ‘‘I’m gonna try to be their support. I told them that it’s not gonna be easy the next few months. But we have to enjoy it, try to have fun and learn from each other.

“I’m trying to be their leader. I’m going to do my best.’’

Bats go quietly against Rodon, Sox

There wasn’t much offense for the Cubs against All-Star Carlos Rodon and four Sox relievers. The Cubs struck out 17 times after a strong performance offensively Friday.

“[Rodon is] just really good,” Ross said. “He just made pitches. He was really effective vs. our guys. We just weren’t able to square much up at all. I would just say it’s a really good performance by him.”

Did you know?

There are a lot of new faces in the Cubs’ clubhouse these days, and outfielder Greg Diechmann, who made his major-league debut Friday, became the 57th player to appear in a game for the Cubs this season. The Cubs used 56 players in 2013.

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