Cubs News

How David Ross is balancing players going through struggles

3 years agoAndy Martinez

David Ross knows the small needle he must thread with a struggling player.

On one hand, the best way to work out of a funk is to play, but, on the other hand, if a player’s not performing to their norms, it doesn’t give the team the best opportunity to win that day.

“It’s just a balance right now of trying to find the right matchup,” Ross said. “Talk to the guys, giving them some time to work on some things without the pressure of playing in a game and continue to build up.”

There were two sides of that spectrum during Friday night’s 10-2 loss to the Marlins. Two players who have been in a bit of a rut, Jason Heyward and Ian Happ had different roles in the loss. Facing a right-handed starter, Ian Happ started and hit 7th while Jason Heyward had the day off.

“Try to find the positives when guys are scuffling and trying to get that those numbers back up,” Ross said.

That means looking at quality at-bats and strong moments from the game, regardless of the end result.

“I think two games ago that [Heyward], started, [he] hit some balls really hard, line drive outs, line drive to first, line drive in the gap, made a big walk at the end,” Ross said.

And that’s what gives Ross confidence that Heyward and Happ can snap out of that funk sooner rather than later.

“We have so many at-bats left for these guys,” Ross said. “Sometimes you gotta be patient and find out the right kind of formula to get those guys back. They’re all putting in work.

“That’s what I point to, continue to work hard and try to find something that works.”

Hoerner learning while hurt

Even though Nico Hoerner is in his second full big-league season and playing in his third season, he’s still maturing as a major leaguer.

That’s especially the case with him on the mend.

“More than any skillset, just an appreciation for being healthy,” Hoerner said on Friday prior the game. “When you’re out there, how much fun it is. Watching that Cardinals series, with full capacity, it’s one of the best sporting events I’ve ever been to. I was more in a spectator role, and it was amazing.”

He’s also learned more patience. As much as he wants to return to the Cubs’ lineup, he’s cognizant of his situation and the knock-on effect it could have if he rushes anything.

“My legs are a big part of my game, on both sides of the ball,” Hoerner said. “I’m not helping anybody if I’m not moving well out there. Get back to 100% and then I’ll be more than ready to play.”

Other injury updates

Hoerner’s bat isn’t the only one the Cubs are missing in their lineup. Matt Duffy continues to work towards a return after suffering a back injury.

“He’s getting checked out today by the docs now that we’re back home, so we’ll have a better see how that’s going,” Ross said.

Trevor Williams, who’s been out since May 31 with appendicitis, is inching closer to a return. Williams threw a bullpen session Thursday in New York and will throw another one in the next few days.

“Now it’s just a progression of getting his body back and his arm strength back,” Ross said. “I talked to him today, said he feels good.”

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