Cubs News

David Ross’ message to Cubs players entering crucial final stretch

10 months agoTony Andracki

Joe Maddon had a common refrain during his tenure as Cubs manager: “Never let the pressure exceed the pleasure.”

David Ross is taking a page out of that book.

Ross’ Cubs just dropped 2 of 3 to the Pirates, a rebuilding team that doesn’t have anything to play for right now other than pride and a desire to act as a spoiler. It was the team’s 4th straight series loss as they fight for a playoff spot.

But the skipper doesn’t want his team to lose sight of the fact that they woke up on Sept. 22 tied for the third Wild Card spot.

“The exciting part is we have an opportunity that we would all sign up for to start Spring Training,” Ross said before Friday’s game. “We got 9 games left and we’re in the hunt for the playoffs. We’re right there. We would all sign up for that.

“This is a really positive moment that feels probably a little bit negative to everybody because of how we’ve gone about the last 10-15 days. … This is a good thing — we’re in a good spot to make the playoffs. We just gotta go out and do it.”

Ross admitted every game has felt “big” for a while now.

With a better performance over the last two weeks, we could be talking about the Cubs in the division hunt or challenging the Phillies for the top Wild Card spot and a chance to host the first round. But even after a 3-10 stretch, the Cubs are still in prime position to claim the final playoff position.

When the Cubs were a season-low 10 games under .500 on June 8, they would have jumped at the chance to be in contention entering the final week of the season. By the time the trade deadline came along and Jed Hoyer’s front office was determining a direction for the franchise, the players were adamant that they wanted an opportunity to show what they could do.

“If you would’ve asked anybody — whether it’s this group or the fanbase — in the middle of June or early July where we were at if they’d have us in the Wild Card and making a playoff push, everybody would’ve said, ‘sign me up,'” Ian Happ said. “These are the kind of games that you want to be playing in in front of this crowd. It’s really special.”

Happ made those comments after Tuesday night’s victory over the Pirates. It’s no coincidence that his thoughts shared the same sentiment as Ross’.

The Cubs didn’t have some big team meeting during this losing streak to remind everybody of the right perspective. But Ross has been instilling it in his players throughout the entire process.

“We have meetings every single day as far as departments and so I poke my head in and have conversations with players and dugout conversations before the games, after games, sitting around breakfast,” Ross said. “That’s stuff that goes on all year.

“The character of this group is going to show up every single day. I’m not worried about that. The belief within that room is there. … It’s a resilient group. I’m not worried about the character of them and knowing what’s going on, but yeah, we just gotta make things happen on the field. We got to pull out W’s.”

The Cubs finish up their home slate this weekend against the Rockies, owners of the worst record in the NL. Then it’s a trip to Atlanta next week to face the best team in the league before a 3-game series in Milwaukee to close out the regular season.

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