CHICAGO – Being here at this point in the season isn’t something new for him, but the position which he has is a lot different.
David Ross appeared in 25 postseason games, 14 playoff series with four different teams during his playing career. But Wednesday will be the first time he’ll do so as a manager in Major League Baseball, as he leads the Cubs on the field against the Marlins in the best-of-three Wild Card series.
“There’s nerves for sure. I was laying in bed last night feeling like today is the day the games were starting,” said Ross on Tuesday. “Having to say over and over again, the game is not tomorrow. I’m anxious to get started.”
While in many ways he was a leader on the field as a catcher, especially in his later years in Boston and Chicago, this will be something quite different for Ross. So how’s he going to handle it, especially in a rare three-game series?
“I don’t know how my managing style will play out,” said Ross when asked how aggressive he’ll be in this short series against Miami. “I know we’ve got to win a series. It’s kinda the focus throughout the season. That’s kinda how you go into this thing. It is baseball so anything can happen in a short series.”
Just like anything could happen in a short season, which Ross was presented with in his first campaign in the new role. Yet he handled it well, leading the Cubs to a 34-26 record and their first NL Central division title for the first time since 2017.
He’ll not abandon what he’s done the past two months with the club, but he acknowledges that some things will have to change.
“I’m gonna continue to rely on the guys that have gotten us to this point, trust that group, and continue to find the right match-ups for guys to be successful,” said Ross. “I don’t see there’s a whole lot that can change other than you’re probably not going to have the leash that you have during the regular season when you’ve got the four-game lead in the central with ten to play, whatever it is, you may wait some things out.
“You’ll react a little quicker when things might not be going out way if that’s the case.”
Fans will get the chance to find out when Game 1 begins against the Marlins on Wednesday at Wrigley Field at 1 PM. Ross has reached out and received advice along with well wishes from other managers in the game, including Joe Maddon, over the past few days.
While some things will change for sure, the attitude and demeanor that Ross has shown early will not.
“The best managers I’ve been around in the postseason continue to bring the same attitude, the same preparation they did to the postseason that they did to the regular season,” said Ross. “You don’t want to really mix it up. You want the players to feel comfortable in going out there and being able to perform.”
Hopefully he will feel the same in this very different role in these playoffs.