David Ross’ advice to Cubs players as they return to Wrigley Field
As July 4 rolls into Chicago for what looks like it will be a gorgeous holiday weekend by the lake, the Cubs will be on the diamond at Wrigley Field.
Just the way it was intended.
Baseball is back and with it, a summer camp/second spring training that kicks off in earnest over the next couple days.
The Cubs are going to stagger workouts to limit group size and potential exposure and they’re encouraged with how well players have stayed in shape during the three-and-a-half month layoff.
In his first spring as manager, David Ross dialed up the intensity in Arizona by bringing in umpires, removing the batting cage and making live batting practice feel more like a game. He expects to do the bring the same level of urgency to live BPs early in this second go-round of camp.
There’s no getting around it — this season is going to be unlike any other that has come before it. With the coronavirus safety measures comes a host of smaller items that will affect players’ day-to-day lives at the field — no chewing gum, no spitting, no high-fiving, keep your distance as much as possible, etc. Not to mention staying safe away from the ballpark.
On a Zoom conference Monday, Ross acknowledged it’s “imperative” the Cubs players follow the protocols and plans to address the team about it.
“With this unique season comes unique circumstances,” Ross said. “We’re all gonna be adjusting on the fly. The one thing I’ve urged my players to do is try to find a positive in it all. As players, we’re very routine-oriented and those routines are gonna be dropped into a bucket and dumped out all over the place. We’re going to have to learn new protocols. We’re going to have to get to the point where the complaining about certain areas that we may not like or agree with, we’re just gonna have to embrace ’em.
“I think we’ve got the right type of group to deal with this. What we’re asking the players to do is extremely difficult. I don’t want to make light of how hard this environment is going to be for those guys. We’ve got professionals. I understand they’re coming to work with a job to do and I trust they’ll put their best foot forward.”
Ross joked the Cubs coaching staff might also have to devise some sort of chain of communication down the dugout to relay messages to players while keeping the social distance during games.
As of Monday afternoon, no Cubs players had informed the team they were planning on opting out of the season and no players tested positive for the virus.
The Cubs front office understands the reality of the situation, but they’re excited to get baseball back and feel comfortable with the league’s plan for safety.
“I’m trying to approach this whole situation as optimistically as I can,” Jed Hoyer said. “There’s going to be challenges — I don’t think there’s any question about that. I think you’d be naive to think that there won’t be moments of difficulty. But at the same time, when you read through the manual and you realize how many scientists and doctors have weighed in, how thorough they’re trying to be with the testing and protocols, I think we’re going to have baseball on the field really soon.”
When baseball does return to the field, Ross has a similar message for his players to the one he preached on a daily basis in Arizona.
“The mantra that I’ve always had and the winning teams that I’ve been on, you really do have to take it day-to-day,” Ross said. “We understand that it’s a shortened season, but the real winning is in the details of the daily process. Those are the things I’m gonna focus on.
“You can’t look at one game and what that loss or win might mean. We just have to come in every day, get our work in, play the brand of baseball we want to play — we’re expected to play — and then come back and do the same thing the next day.”