MESA, Ariz. - On the day of the Cubs' first official workout, David Ross confirmed 2016 would be his last season as a player.
It wasn't exactly a bombshell or a surprise, given Ross is in the final year of his deal with the Cubs and he's been hinting at retirement for a little while now.
"It's time," Ross said. "I don't want to be that guy that stays at the party too long. It's time to get kicked out of the party."
Ross will turn 39 during this spring training and admitted he doesn't know what he's going to do after his playing career. He wants to stick in baseball, but deflected with a joke when asked about a possible mangerial career - "If somebody gives me a manager job, they'd have to interview me first and see what an idiot I really am."
On many levels, Ross is already a coach, using his 14-plus years in the majors to help all the young players acclimate to life in The Show.
And he's always down for a good time, which he proved again Friday night with Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward:
— Anthony Rizzo (@ARizzo44) February 20, 2016
"I made a joke," Ross said, "saying we should go into Dick's and act like we were buying all our stuff and Rizzo's like, 'Let's do it!' So I was like, 'Alright, I'll let the kids have some fun at my expense.'"
The veteran catcher knows his place on this team, which now has World Series expectations after Ross and Jon Lester helped Joe Maddon change the culture in the clubhouse last season.
Maddon spoke highly of Ross' influence in the locker room:
"In spite of not hitting .275 or better, he still creates this stature or maintains this stature in the clubhouse because of the respect people have for him about how he goes about his business," Maddon said. "And then when he says something, it's pertinent, it's right on.
"I really don't care what he hits batting-average-wise. His job is totally different. Whatever he hits is gravy for us. I love what he does. How well he interacts with Jon Lester and all the other stuff that he does for the team. It's almost immeasurable. It's that important."
Ross said he and new starter John Lackey - who is 37 - exchanged texts when Lackey first signed with the Cubs, saying they wanted to give it one last "whirl" at a championship before hanging 'em up.
"This isn't about me," Ross said. "There's so much good going on here. I don't think it should ever be about the backup catcher retiring that's a career .220 hitter.
"Listen, if it's about me, we're in trouble. There's none of that - this last this, this last that. I look forward to this ride.
"I need to prepare myself so I'm not the weak link on this team. I wanna be a guy that contributes to this team. I wanna have the best year that I possibly can to fit in with this group that's super talented."
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While Ross said he hasn't given much thought to life after his playing career, he did admit he has a few things on his bucket list for 2016 beyond a World Series.
He wants to take in everything he can, experiencing the moments and seeing the sights on road trips. He also said he will write down some of his thoughts, something he started this offseason.
Ross is entering his 15th year in the big leagues and has never entered spring training on a minor-league deal or as a non-roster invitee, an area he admitted he takes some pride in.
A reporter asked Ross if he will go out like Peyton Manning (assuming the Super Bowl-winning quarterback does, indeed, call it a career), but the Cubs catcher again deflected with a self-deprecating joke:
"When you're the backup catcher with a .200 average," Ross said, "I think it's more like 'Let's just get this guy out of the game. We'll move him on, next guy.'"