David Ross wants the Cubs to dial up the intensity immediately in summer camp
This may be “Spring Training 2.0” but it’s not a six- or seven-week affair.
The Cubs have only three weeks to get ready for the 2020 MLB season and they don’t have the luxury of slow-playing the workouts at Wrigley Field this month.
While Friday is a lighter day to kick things off, David Ross wants the Cubs to dial up the intensity immediately and the team will have an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday already.
The Cubs will divide up into two squads and play 3 innings.
“Let our pitchers that are actually pitching and ready to go on their day get off the mound, have them get some live looks and have some hitters in the box and start competing right off the bat,” Ross said.
In his first camp as manager in the spring, Ross wanted to increase the sense of urgency and intensity and he brought in umpires and removed the batting cage from live batting practices in Arizona. That meant guys like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were facing Jon Lester in a game-like setting.
So this fits along those same lines — getting the players out and competing as soon as possible.
The Cubs are pleased with where all the pitchers and players are at physically coming into summer camp. But there’s still an element of caution that will be at play in these games.
Ross understands it’s a fine line to walk between pushing guys too soon and ramping up the intensity so they’ll be ready to go come July 23-24.
“Our pitchers are ready to throw live,” Ross said. “They’re already up to 3 innings, so we’re gonna keep them on that track. It’s really impressive the work they’ve done. And it’s a controlled intrasquad. If we need to roll at 20 pitches in the inning, we can do that. That’s nice.
“We’re not gonna have any guys busting it down, giving the hard 90 [feet] from Day 1. We’ll let them pace themselves, just take it nice and easy, get your feet under you, get out of the box, swing, get down the line. Just making sure the guys start to find this routine.
“But there’s no substitute for live looks. … We learn so much from the interactions of competing that I want these guys to start turning that dial up a little bit. They’ve done the work, now it’s time to get back to learning how to compete at a high level again.”
Ross and the Cubs coaching staff will be relying on feedback from players as they go, letting off the gas or altering a plan if needed.
Just like spring training in Arizona, bench coach Andy Green has been in charge with structuring the workouts. But unlike spring, the players have to be spread out throughout the day.
The rough summer camp outline starts with the pitchers who aren’t throwing on that particular day coming in during the morning to work out, play catch and use the weight room. Then catchers will start trickling in to catch some of the bullpens with the pitchers who are slated to throw on that particular day.
Position players will roll in after that, essentially breaking the day up into two groups.