Cubs manager David Ross sees outside scrutiny as part of the job

Ross’ in-game decisions in a loss to the Reds on Monday became a hot topic.

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The Cubs’ Patrick Wisdom, right, speaks with manager David Ross, left, after being hit by a pitch in the fifth inning of Monday’s game.

The Cubs’ Patrick Wisdom, right, speaks with manager David Ross, left, after being hit by a pitch in the fifth inning of Monday’s game.

Jeff Dean/AP

CINCINNATI — Cubs manager David Ross’ in-game decisions will be under a microscope like they haven’t been in his first three years in this seat. But he sees expectations as a good thing.

“Maybe no one else had expectations [before],” Ross said Tuesday, “but I don’t ever step foot out here with this group of guys, or the group last year or the year before, without an expectation to win on a nightly basis.”

Social media was ablaze Monday evening with Cubs fans’ takes on Ross leaving starter Drew Smyly in the game for 4⅔ innings and having Patrick Wisdom bunt in a 3-1 count with runners on first and second in the Cubs’ 7-6 loss to the Reds.

“I also know part of sitting in this seat and part of the job is [I’m] going to get scrutinized,” Ross said. “And I’m at home doing the same thing to myself, and replaying it, and asking all my coaches and the front office, having those conversations: ‘What would you have done differently? Here was my thought process. Did I miss the boat on something?’ ”

In those conversations, he also is aware of possible outcome bias. The question is, regardless of the result, was the process correct?

Bats heating up

Cincinnati was the site of more Cubs firsts Monday, as Cody Bellinger, Eric Hosmer and Tucker Barnhart recorded their first hits with their new squad.

“The first one is always nice to get out of the way,” Hosmer said. “It’s a sense of relief.”

It was only Barnhart’s second regular season game as a Cub, but Bellinger and Hosmer had gone a combined 0-for-18 to start the season. They broke those mini hitless streaks in a big way.

Bellinger hit a three-run homer and Hosmer went 3-for-5 in the 7-6 loss Monday. In the 12-5 win Tuesday, Hosmer went 2-for-5 with two RBI, and Bellinger was one of four Cubs who recorded three hits.

Shortstop Dansby Swanson has been on a hot streak to start the season. He entered Tuesday leading the league in batting average (.588).

Leeper has arm surgery

Minor-league pitcher Ben Leeper underwent Tommy John surgery, the team confirmed.

“Sometimes the plan you’ve drawn up doesn’t always align with the one God has in store for you,” Leeper posted to Instagram this week. “Over the past year, I’ve been trying to push through this to achieve what I’ve always dreamed of doing. . . . The best is still in front of me. See y’all in 2024 with a new arm.”

The Cubs invited Leeper to spring training after he posted a 4.50 ERA in Triple-A last season. The Cubs signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2020. At that point, he had already undergone surgery twice to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Wisdom in starting lineup

Wisdom was in the lineup again Tuesday after taking a pitch off his wrist the day before. X-rays came back negative.

“Dodged a bullet,” Wisdom said. “Well, I didn’t really dodge it.”

Suzuki update

Right fielder Seiya Suzuki (strained left oblique) was scheduled to serve as the designated hitter for a few at-bats in Arizona on Tuesday, the Cubs announced. He stayed at the spring-training facility to continue his rehab.

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