Cubs keeping a big-picture approach regarding health in marathon season
It may be David Ross’ second season as a big-league manager, but that doesn’t mean he’s not always learning something.
“Every day is new for me, being a manager,” Ross said prior to Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Nationals. “This is my first real long [season] that I’ve had.”
This season, that’s meant learning when to take his foot off the throttle. In 2020, Ross was more inclined to play his players every day as the “sprint” feel of the season made Ross and the Cubs press as they chased a playoff berth.
“Last year felt like such an anxiety to get going and when you’re not hitting, you saw the end so close, it’s like, wait a minute and I don’t have any numbers yet and we only got a month left in the season,” Ross said.
This season, he’s resisting the urge to play everyone every single game. He knows how important rest is and how crucial it is to give his guys a day off if they have a slight knock.
“I’ve gotta take care of the bumps and bruises that guys have to make sure those don’t turn into major issues,” Ross said. “Little things come up throughout the season where it’s like OK, I really wanna keep the group as a whole as healthy as possible so you realize it’s just such a long journey you gotta give guys days off.”
It’s why he kept Anthony Rizzo out of the lineup Wednesday night. Rizzo left Tuesday’s game with back tightness and Ross decided to give him an extra day to recuperate. Rizzo was available if needed Wednesday. Ross also gave the day off to Javy Báez who has dealt with hamstring and back issues at points this season. It wasn’t a full day off for Báez, who pinch hit in the 7th and stayed in the game to play shortstop.
Báez crushed a 9th inning home run to left field, but the Cubs couldn’t complete the comeback.
The Cubs were dealt another injury blow in the 4th inning, when P.J. Higgins pinch hit for Jason Heyward who left the game with left hamstring tightness.
“It’s hard not to write certain guys name in the lineup,” Ross said. “But the more I realize, it just takes everybody. For me when it kicked in [was] when we had that big [group] on the IL with all the off days last week or so. It kicked in like, ‘Man, we’ve got to find everybody playing time and mix and match for me because it is such a long season.’”
Scherzer, Soto stymie Cubs
Max Scherzer struck out 8 Cubs and permitted just 2 runs in 5 innings of work in the Nationals’ win over the Cubs. He tiptoed around trouble in 5th inning, escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam allowing just 1 run. The Cubs made Scherzer work, though, as he threw 100 pitches in 5 innings and the Cubs had 9 baserunners as they continued their solid performances against former Cy Young Award winners.
Juan Soto, meanwhile, was 3-for-4 with a 5th inning home run off Jake Arrieta. The Nationals got to Arrieta, who allowed 4 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings of work.
“I came out a little flat,” Arrieta said. “A lot of high-stress pitches, guys on base, couple of walks, command wasn’t very good and just didn’t get into a rhythm.
“It was a tough night. Not what I wanted, especially going up against Max. Need to be better than that. Nice job from our lineup, I just would have liked to be a little sharper for our guys tonight.”