Cubs return to Chicago, focus on staying sharp amidst unexpected time off
The Cubs are rolling; there’s no denying that.
A 10-3 record, tied for second best winning percentage in Major League Baseball behind the Marlins – who have played five fewer games – has given the Cubs just the start they would’ve hoped for when the 2020 season kicked off in late July.
When a team’s rolling like that, usually, they can’t play their next game fast enough. And the Cubs next game – Tuesday on the road against Cleveland – will mark four days since their last game, a loss to the Royals. Now, the Cubs biggest challenge becomes staying sharp.
But David Ross isn’t too worried about that. They’ve already gone through one unexpected pause in action this year.
“There’s no substitute for competition, I think we all know that, and getting out there against another jersey is important and it’s important to stay sharp physically and mentally and staying ready,” Ross said. “But we have a ton of professionals that you saw the adjustments they already made in the layoff of three months, and how they came back and stayed ready and got their work in. This is no different. They’ll just try and adjust and stay as sharp as they can. We’ll see where they’re at when we start competing.”
That professionalism will be crucial this weekend.
After beginning the season with 13 games in 14 days, the Cubs have had their first extended rest period this season. The team arrived back in Chicago from St. Louis on a chartered flight Friday night at around 8 p.m.
“It’s 2020, where we know we’ve gotta take it one day at a time,” Ross said. “I think we’ve talked about that from the start. I’m not really a guy that looks too far ahead anyways, in general. I try to take things day-to-day.
“I think we all knew, and we said it multiple times about how this season is just really a year of who can adjust to a little bit of adversity and some change and that’s gonna be throughout the season, we know that. We’ll continue to push forward.”
Ross gave most hitters the day off on Saturday but allowed them to come to Wrigley Field to get work or treatment in, if they wanted.
Pitchers got some light work in at Wrigley Field, with those who had scheduled bullpen sessions throwing them. Ross has an intrasquad scrimmage planned for Sunday and then “something fun” on Monday, before flying out to Cleveland for a two-game set.
“We’re still working through a little competition that we’re gonna have [on Monday],” Ross said. “We were setting some things up last night on the plane. It’ll be a little fun.”
Until then, Ross wants the players to rest up, but get ready to get back into the grind of things as the season hits up.
“No matter what, you kinda welcome an off day in the middle of a long stretch,” Ross said. “Talking through some things and how hard these guys have been playing, kind of giving the position players an extra day today. Letting guys pick up the baseball if they need to and throw some bullpens. But these guys have been pushing it hard and we’ll get back after it tomorrow.”
Ross did mention he’ll be watching a bit more baseball from home with his dog, Maya, including Cleveland, who is in Chicago playing the White Sox. But he and the Cubs will recharge their batteries for the remainder of the 2020 season.
“It’s a little bit of a reset for us,” Ross said. “take a couple of days and we’ll get back to getting some workouts in and to get back to focusing on Cleveland when we play on Tuesday.
– Ross and his staff haven’t made up their mind as to how the Cubs’ rotation will shake out on Tuesday. Jon Lester was scheduled to pitch Friday’s opener in St. Louis, with Alec Mills and Kyle Hendricks to follow. That would’ve meant Yu Darvish would’ve been in line to start Tuesday’s opener in Cleveland.
Lester threw a bullpen session on Saturday at Wrigley Field. Ross said he’ll confer with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and the rest of the staff to see how things shake up when they take on Cleveland in a 2016 World Series rematch.
– José Quintana threw another bullpen session on Saturday morning as he works to return from his thumb laceration, he suffered prior to summer camp. His next throwing session is scheduled for Tuesday at the alternate site in South Bend.