David Ross believes a little more communication and a little less patience by him will benefit the Cubs in 2021
As David Ross and the Cubs chased down the NL Central crown in September, his attention remained focused on preparing for each game, leaving little time for much else.
“When you’re in the middle of the race it takes a minute to step back and really assess,” Ross said last week.
Well, now that he’s had a few months since the season ended, Ross has been able to reflect on his debut season at the helm. Chief among the things he learned was being a little less patient.
“There’s a balance and timing there that I err on the side of patience and just in a 60-game season as I look back, I wish I would have been a little more proactive in some of those conversations as I thought about it,” Ross said. “I don’t know if that would’ve changed anything or not, but it would have made me feel a little better.”
Part of that means more communication from Ross. Throughout the season, Ross would sit back and rely on his players to make the necessary adjustments themselves. He believed if he waited and trusted in their skills, they could break out of any ruts on their own.
“I’ve talked to multiple players and I think the guys want more conversation from me because I tried to separate that manager/player spot at times and also come in as how I know them,” Ross said. “It’s maybe how a certain guy is being pitched. You see it for a week straight and there’s no adjustment, right? I can take that to the hitting coach.
“Maybe I should just go straight to the player and tell the story of this is maybe my experience in something, this is your numbers in this area. Instead of waiting two weeks where they fell flat on their face.”
The toughest aspect for Ross, though, was managing a coaching staff. He knew the player aspect of the game and he had a general idea of all that encompassed the managerial position, but he hadn’t had to direct a group of coaches.
“Managing a coaching staff was definitely different where you have men and communicating with them about your wants and needs and just keeping those lines of communication open,” Ross said. “I think I can do a better job in that. I wouldn’t say I was terrible, I just wanna continue to build on that with the relationships with my coaches and get in there deeper with those guys and find the time to interact with everybody.”
After all, he saw firsthand the importance of communication. As a player, Ross would see front office members in the manager’s office after games and immediately feared the worst.
“It’s always negative,” Ross thought as a player.
In reality, they were the foundations of improvement for Ross as a manager. After a game, Ross would discuss the day’s decisions and tactics and would talk it through with his front office. It helped him relax a little when a big move was necessary in the future.
“There’s thoughts and reasonings behind every decision you make, and you make so many decisions throughout a game,” Ross said. “So, to be able to talk through them and just get a little bit of affirmation or helpful criticism from the guys that were able to come in my office is extremely helpful. “
At the end of the day, though, every experience helped mold Ross. In many ways his growth mindset as a manager is consistent with how he approached the game as a player. This trait has always served Ross well through the night he was carried off the field as a World Series champion on the shoulders of two of his current players — Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo.
So it’s no surprise one of his greatest strengths between the lines remains intact now that he’s calling the shots from the dugout.
“I don’t ever think I’ve got it figured out, I’m trying to get better as much as I can,” Ross said.