'You saw?' Ross watches practice from roof

July 15th, 2020

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager David Ross did not enter Wrigley Field on Monday morning. Without the results of his Saturday COVID-19 test in hand, the manager opted to play it safe and not attend Chicago's scheduled workout.

Ross still found a way to keep an eye on the Summer Camp practice, though. This was not a case of putting on a fake mustache like former Mets manager Bobby Valentine. No, Ross just found a different vantage point, heading to a rooftop beyond the right-field wall to get a bird's-eye view of his players.

"You saw?" Ross said with a smile in a Zoom discussion with media on Tuesday. "I thought I was hidden from you guys behind the scoreboard. Yeah, it was nice. I got a nice seat over there. I got to watch the practice. The energy was good. I could hear the guys."

Ross' test came back negative, so he was back at the ballpark on Tuesday night to oversee the workout and evening intrasquad game in person. The manager would not need to send text messages from a rooftop to bench coach Andy Green, who took charge of Monday's practice.

It was an example of how teams might need to continue to maintain flexibility as Major League Baseball and clubs continue to get accustomed to the testing process. Ross said he has continued to feel optimism over the routine becoming more efficient as all parties involved use the Summer Camp period to work out the kinks.

"Every day, there are more and more improvements," Ross said. "Every time these adjustments come up, we're on the phone with MLB, and so is every other club, just making sure that they're ironing out as much as they possibly can. And, to my knowledge, everything, every topic that's kind of been a hurdle so far, they're on top of and continue to try to make it better."

At the club level, Ross said it is also important to create a cohesive environment with the coaching staff. That way, if anyone is delayed in being on hand or the result of a test forces someone to stay away from the team for a period of time, the group can fill in the gaps without any problems.

"It's extremely important. I can't speak highly enough of the staff," Ross said. "This thing doesn't skip a beat without me, and that's rewarding. ... It really is a true team effort with the staff. That's why we've got great depth in the coaching staff all over the place."

Rizzo sits out Tuesday
Anthony Rizzo took swings during a live batting practice session on Sunday, and Ross initially was encouraged by how the Cubs' first baseman got through the workout. On Tuesday, though, the manager noted that Rizzo's lower-back issue has flared again.

"After his live BP the other day, once he cooled down," Ross said, "a little bit of that stiffness came back. So he's still day to day. We're trying to get some tests run and see where he's at."

Under the circumstances, the Cubs had Rizzo skip Tuesday's intrasquad game, marking the fifth scrimmage the first baseman has missed due to the setback. Chicago should have more information on Rizzo's status Wednesday.

Hendricks, Darvish duel in intrasquad
Ross has not yet named his Opening Day starter, but the decision remains between right-handers Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish. The pair of starters squared off in Tuesday's intrasquad game, putting either pitcher in line to start the July 24 opener against the Brewers.

Hendricks worked 6 1/3 innings (he faced an extra batter in the seventh) and limited the team wearing the road blues to one single. The righty ended with three strikeouts and no walks and reached around 70 pitches.

Darvish logged 60 pitches in 3 2/3 innings, getting more efficient after throwing 38 pitches in the first two frames. The righty struck out three, walked two and allowed a pair of hits, including a home run to catcher Willson Contreras.

Worth noting
• The Cubs have added left-hander Justin Steele (No. 21 on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Cubs prospects), righty Keegan Thompson (No. 26) and lefty Jack Patterson (No. 28) to their 60-man player pool, which currently has 54 players. All three will head to the South Bend, Ind., alternate training site.

• Center fielder Albert Almora Jr. was among the players absent from Monday's workout, but Ross noted that the outfielder is "good to go." Almora crashed into the center-field wall during an intrasquad game on Friday, but he came out of the scare OK.

• Closer Craig Kimbrel worked one inning in Tuesday's game, ending with two strikeouts, including one via a 96-mph fastball against Hernán Pérez to conclude the seventh. Nico Hoerner singled off Kimbrel, stole second and moved to third on a passed ball, but was stranded.

• Setup man Kyle Ryan made his intrasquad debut in Summer Camp on Tuesday, inducing a trio of groundouts. With two outs, though, the left-hander also surrendered a towering home run to Cubs shortstop Javier Báez.