Cubs salute Ross with teasing, affection

Instagram account created for retiring catcher; Heyward gives him suite

February 22nd, 2016

MESA, Ariz. -- David Ross has announced this will be his last season, and Cubs teammates Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant plan on documenting his farewell tour, although it's not exactly with a moniker the 38-year-old catcher likes.

Rizzo and Bryant have created an Instagram account called "GrandpaRossy_3" and, so far, have posted a few photos, including Ross' first baseball card and one from an impromptu shopping trip to a sporting goods store.

"What I've learned from him last year and to this year and what I'm going to learn for the rest of my career from him being here, it's huge to me," Rizzo said of Ross. "I gave him all the credit in the world for last year, and I still give him credit. What he does in this clubhouse helps all of us young guys."

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Ross is keeping a journal of his own, but was surprised by the photos.

"I'm going to have kids calling me 'Grandpa' around here," Ross said Monday. "I'll show 'em. I'll get them out there and race them. I'll race Rizzo and see who's faster."

Ross has downplayed his final season, saying he doesn't want any attention. He's quick to point out that he's a backup catcher with a career .228 batting average. But manager Joe Maddon doesn't pay attention to the statistics.

"Too many times you portray players as clubhouse leaders and that's done way too loosely for me," Maddon said. "With him, it's legitimate. He is a clubhouse leader. Despite not hitting .275 or better, he still maintains his stature in the clubhouse because of the respect people have for him for how he goes about his business. When he says something, it's pertinent and right on.

"I really don't care what he hits batting average-wise -- it makes no difference to me," Maddon said. "Whatever he hits is gravy for me, for us."

Rizzo, 26, may have a tougher time dealing with the farewell tour than Ross.

"I'm going to be emotional all year with him," Rizzo said. "It's my older brother-slash-dad."

How much do players respect Ross? New Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward is paying for Ross to have a hotel suite on the road the entire season. The two were lockermates in Atlanta when Heyward made his Major League debut in 2010, and Ross had quite an impact.

"That's one of the first emotional moments I had in the offseason," Ross said Monday. "[Heyward] texted me this nice long message about supposedly what I've done for him. That was cool to start reflecting back and people you've played with start saying nice things."