Ross applying lessons learned in '20 to '21

February 23rd, 2021

MESA, Ariz. -- David Ross thought he was preparing for a normal season when he moved into the manager's office for the first time in 2020. Like every manager, he wound up tackling more than anyone could have predicted.

On Monday morning, Ross stood before his players at Sloan Park ahead of the first full-squad workout of Spring Training. MLB is preparing for a regular 162-game season, but the lessons learned throughout the 2020 campaign were on his mind as he delivered his first speech of the year.

"I try to tell them who I am, what I expect, some of the characteristics that I've seen over my time being a player and some of the things I learned last year that are important to me as a manager," Ross said.

In terms of the on-field lessons Ross learned last year, he said identifying trouble spots and "setting intentions" in the daily work is crucial for his players. Last year, for example, the Cubs sought to improve their team-wide defense and baserunning. Both ended up being strengths in the abbreviated 2020 season.

"[When] we set those intentions, good things happen," Ross said. "We saw that last year in some of the areas we wanted to improve, and we saw direct improvement in the way we went about our work and the results that followed. I think that's a message to them."

Alzolay throws live BP

Three pitches into facing hitters on Monday, righty was tasked with fielding a sharp comebacker off the bat of Nico Hoerner. Alzolay reacted quickly, snaring the grounder and miming a throw to first, to some cheers from his teammates.

"Good job, coaches!" yelled Ross, in reference to the pitchers' fielding drills that took place earlier in the morning.

Hoerner and David Bote were among the batters to face Alzolay, who is vying for a spot in the rotation. Righty Kyle Hendricks was one of the other starting pitchers to begin throwing to hitters. At this point in camp, Ross said the only thing he looks for in live BP is health.

"Just making sure these guys are healthy," Ross said. "Get off the bump, making sure they're feeling good. I'm not judging a guy's live BP. Get up there, let the guys hit, let the hitters get their swing, let's start getting our timing, let's start getting our rhythm. Feel comfortable with a hitter standing in the box.

"You want to see the action. You want to get the feedback, but all the cameras we have now and the machines that can give us the data will tell them where they're at. It's not real competition yet."

Related

Quotable

"The things that Kyle's done here were very special. And Jon came over and just basically dusted off everyone's 'W' flag, and basically started waving the 'W' flag single-handedly for this franchise." -- Anthony Rizzo, on Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester, who signed with the Nationals in free agency over the offseason

Worth noting

• Outfielder Phillip Ervin was claimed off waivers by the Braves on Monday. Chicago had designated Ervin for assignment on Saturday after adding center fielder Jake Marisnick to the 40-man roster.

• Other than righty Rowan Wick (intercostal), Ross said no players in camp are currently behind due to injury issues.

• Ross noted that a handful of players did not participate in Monday's workout because they were still going through the intake process and COVID-19 protocols.