Cubs' Ross upbeat despite postponed series

August 8th, 2020

CHICAGO -- Back at Wrigley Field on Saturday morning, Cubs manager David Ross tried to find the positives of his team's unexpected in-season break.

The 2020 campaign has presented a new set of challenges for clubs, and that held true for the Cubs on Friday, when their three-game weekend series against the Cardinals was postponed over COVID-19 concerns surrounding St. Louis' players and staff. Given that backdrop, Ross is choosing to look for ways to capitalize on the next few days.

"It's a little bit of a reset for us," Ross said. "We've got to continue to try to stay as sharp as we possibly can, get back to maybe working on a few things we might want to clean up in this down time, and use it to our advantage as best we can."

The Cubs, who are off to a strong 10-3 start, originally were facing a schedule with 17 consecutive games out of the chute. A rainout on July 30 in Cincinnati and the recent issues with the Cardinals altered that initial expectation. Makeup dates for the games against St. Louis have not been announced.

Ross reiterated that the unexpected is what should actually be expected.

"It's 2020, where we know we've got to take it one day at a time," Ross said. "I think we all knew -- and we've said it multiple times -- about how this season is just really a year of who can adjust to a little bit of adversity and some change.

"And that's going to be throughout the season. We know that. We'll continue to push forward."

The Cubs' current plan included a light workout day at Wrigley Field on Saturday -- mostly for pitchers to get throwing done and bullpen sessions completed. Lefty Jon Lester, for example, was scheduled to start on Friday in St. Louis, but instead threw off a mound on Saturday in Chicago.

Ross said he and his staff still needed to discuss the upcoming pitching plans for the Cubs' next series, which is a two-game set in Cleveland, beginning Tuesday. Righties Alec Mills and Kyle Hendricks were scheduled to follow Lester against the Cardinals, but the North Siders now have some flexibility to reorder their rotation, if so desired.

"We have a ton of professionals," Ross said. "You saw the adjustment they already made in the layoff of three months and how they came back and stayed ready and got their work in. So, this is no different. They'll just try to adjust."

The Cubs will hold a simulated game as part of a team workout on Sunday, and then Ross said the club has "something fun" planned for Monday. The manager smiled when asked to elaborate, but declined to delve into details except to say they began plotting some kind of competition on the flight home Friday evening.

Ross also praised the many parties involved in Friday's decision-making and logistical planning, as the Cubs awaited word about whether the series in St. Louis would happen.

The Cubs arrived in St. Louis late Thursday night, following their series in Kansas City. Early Friday, Ross was given word that there was a chance the opener against the Cardinals would be postponed, and that information about the series would come later in the afternoon or evening.

At the team's hotel in St. Louis, Cubs staffers prepped a food room and an outdoor lounge area, giving players the ability to leave their rooms to socialize in a safe space. A plane was quickly readied in the event of the series postponement, so the team could swiftly return to Chicago.

Ross said the communication with the Cardinals and Major League Baseball -- plus the work behind the scenes to take care of the players and staff -- was "really outstanding" across the board.

"There's a lot of logistics there," said the manager. "Major League Baseball was phenomenal. Just all in all, really ... it was handled really well."

After he was done with the Cubs' workouts, Ross said he planned to spend the next few nights on the couch at home, with his dog at his side, watching some of the White Sox's next two games against Cleveland. He can do some scouting that way while the Cubs' analytics team compiles their reports.

He also took the time to express well wishes to the St. Louis players and staff impacted by COVID-19.

"We send our best to the Cardinals, those players," Ross said. "It's a scary time, and we all want baseball to move forward and guys to be healthy."