MESA, Ariz. – Finding a spot was a bit tricky at Sloan Park, but he didn’t seem to care.
For David Ross, struggling to park on the first days of spring training in Mesa was actually something great.
“There’s a lot of excitement if you walk around the clubhouse and walk around the hallways. A lot of energy already, you’ve seen the numbers that have turned out. I pulled in for the first time I almost couldn’t find parking. I might be showing up a little late already as a manager. We’ve got to get my own parking spot in my contract,” said the new Cubs’ manager.
That would be just a little detail that the franchise could probably give to the man they’re hoping can jump-start this era of the team and perhaps give the Cubs as second World Series title before finances will forces changes to the core. But it’s the small things that matter the most to Ross as he takes over the team ahead of the 2020 season in place of Joe Maddon, stepping into a manager’s position for the first time in his career.
Naturally, this strategy of taking care of the details begins on the field, taking care of fundamental lapses that, in his mind, hindered the team over the past two seasons.
“There’s been a lot of success here and these guys e are a lot of experiences to pull from. Just coming back and paying attention to some of the details, grind at-bats, focus on cleaning up our baserunning a little bit, some of the small details where things have maybe gone awry in the last year or two,” said Ross. “Nothing earth-shattering, it’s just a focus to attention to detail, working together, getting back to respecting one another, being accountable to your at-bats, to your teammates. I know that word’s gotten thrown around a lot. Some small things of that in a professional at-bat and extending that lineup so we make that other pitcher work.”
Is that a bad thing that Ross has to do that with a group that’s less than a half-decade removed from a World Series title?
“I would actually say no,” responded Ross. “Sometimes success can bring a lack of just things…the focus can get awry at times and we tend to focus some other details as our careers evolve. A lot of these guys have gone through a path of success; and still, a lot of good talent and good numbers getting put up there, but the attention to detail and the winning ways that I find important I think are the ones that I’m gonna hammer home.”
While he does that, Ross also plans to use simple comments and gestures to reinforce confidence in his group throughout the season. It was one of the main things he discussed when talking about how he’ll handle the team in 2020, pointing out how important that can be to a player’s psyche during a long season, and offered up an example from his days in Atlanta.
“Bobby Cox one time patted me on the butt after an 0-for-4 off Roy Halladay and four punch-outs, talking about how nasty Roy Halladay was rather than, in my mind, how bad I stunk. I think little comments like that, rewarding the hustle the effort, the smart plays with just a little ‘pick me up,’ the pat on the back, and they carry that into their locker room,” said Ross “The good managers, you’d see them in the food room and they’d be like ‘way to go, Rossi’ and I’ll be like ‘I don’t know what I did lately but OK.’ I just think that kind of reinforcement from your manager goes a long way.
“I haven’t sat in this seat but I’ve had a lot of managers and really tried to pay attention when I’ve played to how that made me feel and how much a manager’s word carries, you know, where a player may not or a coach may not, the manager’s voice carries a lot of weight.”
His will this year with a team looking for one more push with their current core.