What David Ross learned in his first season as Cubs manager
The 2020 season was unlike any other in baseball history, but it was also a successful year for the Cubs by just about any measure.
They didn’t meet their own expectations in the playoffs, but this is a team that won the division, kept the coronavirus out of the clubhouse and navigated a really difficult situation by coming together as a group.
David Ross was at the center of all that in his first year as manager of the Cubs. He finished in third place for National League Manager of the Year and joined Marquee Sports Network Tuesday night to reflect on his 2020 season.
Through it all, Ross was most proud of the way his group worked and supported each other — including moments that were clearly bigger than baseball like Jason Heyward sitting out a game and speaking out about the racial injustice in this country.
The first-year skipper was also impressed with his team’s defense this season, as evidenced by the Cubs earning the first-ever team Gold Glove while Anthony Rizzo and Javy Báez took home individual honors.
But Ross also learned a lot in his first season and hopes to carry those lessons over to 2021 and beyond.
“Just how fast things move and what the repercussions are on either pinch-hitting for a guy or taking a guy out early and how you have to communicate with them,” Ross said to Cole Wright and Ryan Dempster on Cubs Live!. “Taking Kyle Schwarber out of that game on Sunday Night Baseball — you forget you’re on TV half the time. You’re just out there doing your job.
“I know why I did it and you never want to embarrass a player and I felt like I may have embarrassed him, so that was a huge lesson for me. I don’t want to do that to my players. I want to set expectations, I want to set boundaries, but I don’t ever want to embarrass somebody. That was definitely a hard lesson — a lot of hard lessons that you remember and the easy ones that you kinda forget.
“There’s a bunch of those lessons. At the end, the fourth time through the lineup there against the Marlins when Kyle [Hendricks] gave up that home run, I was gonna take him out one batter later and I did it and he gave up the home run. So you don’t sleep at night when that kind of stuff happens.
“There’s so many lessons that I learned throughout this season. The hard ones are the ones that are coming to mind right now ’cause those are the ones I lost a lot of sleep over.”
As for what comes next, Ross is focused on working with the rest of the Cubs coaching staff along with the front office and the players on improving the team’s weaknesses and honing in on their strengths throughout the offseason.
It will be a winter of uncertainty around baseball, but Ross’ expectations for 2021 are still as clear as ever.
“We want to continue to win championships as long as I’m here,” he said. “That’s always going to be the goal and those are gonna be my expectations going into every year. We’re working to win a World Series and be champions at the end of the season.”