Cubs

Could David Ross make the jump from 'Dancing With The Stars' to MLB manager?

Could David Ross make the jump from 'Dancing With The Stars' to MLB manager?

Nowadays, David Ross' biggest worry involves executing dance steps instead of hitting fastballs in front of millions on live TV. Or, in the case of a dance he did earlier this month, executing those steps while taking off his pants in front of that primetime audience on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars."

"I did the ‘Magic Mike' routine the other night," Ross, fully clothed in the Wrigley Field press box, explained of his April 3 faux-striptease dance. "I literally couldn't sleep one night — I dropped my kids off at school, like half the elementary school goes, 'Mr. Ross, I watched you on Dancing With The Stars.' And I knew I had Magic Mike. So I'm like, wait a minute, all these 7-, 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds are gonna watch me take off my pants and shirt. It scared me to death."

Ross was back in the warm embrace of Wrigley Field on a chilly Wednesday evening to receive his 2016 World Series ring, throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Jon Lester ("I wanted to shake him off so bad," Ross laughed) and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the Seventh Inning Stretch. Life after baseball has suited the longtime backup catcher well, even the celebrity aspect of it has been surreal for a guy who'll remind anyone within earshot that he hit .229 in his 15-year career. He's hung out with Eddie Vedder, done the late-night talk show circuit, competed against the likes of Mr. T on "Dancing With the Stars" and has a book coming out next month. 

"Like, I can't even read," Ross said. "How do I have a book coming out?"

But Ross has, on occasion, felt the itch to return to baseball. He's not getting back in as a player, but what about as a manager?

"That's hard to say," Ross said. "I think that I've got a lot of people saying that I could manage and this and that. That's a huge compliment, and I take that very seriously. But I want to know what goes into it."

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A desire to figure out what it takes to manage a baseball team is why Ross took a job with the Cubs' front office as a special assistant to baseball operations in January. He'll do some amateur scouting from home but also wants to learn about the kind of information Joe Maddon receives and how he works with a coaching staff and roster. 

"I know it's a lot harder than people give it credit for, and I don't want to take that for granted and say 'Oh, yeah, I'd make a great manager, I could just step down there and do it,'" Ross said. "I know that's not true. There will be a time for figuring out what role that I'll have in baseball, and that's what's great about Theo (Epstein) giving me the opportunity to try different avenues and see what I like the most."

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo — one of Ross' closest friends — brought up a line of questioning the 40-year-old Ross will have to ask himself, though, if he ever does want to return to a major league dugout. 

"You know, there's just so many cons that come along with that," Rizzo said. "Why? Why would he? He's making more money this year off the field than if he was playing or managing. He's got his family. If he wanted to, I could see him being a manager, but I just don't see that right now for him."  

But if Ross ever were to decide to give managing a try, there are plenty around the game who believe he'd be good at it. Count his former manager among those people. 

Maddon explained that beyond his baseball knowledge, Ross is "people bright" and has the ability to work with a wide range of personalities. Those people skills are one of the biggest reasons why Ross left such an indelible mark on the 2016 Cubs.

"I think he'd do a great job handling what he has to do on a daily basis," Maddon said. "His sense of humor, but also his intensity and his drive all would be obvious. He's going to do that at some point when he's done dancing.

"Another reason why (he'd succeed) is he's stepping out of his comfort zone right now (on 'Dancing With The Stars'). That's not comfortable. That takes a big leap, literally, of some kind of faith to jump out in front of the nation on a dance floor after being baseball player for so many years. I love that. That in and of itself tells me he'll be a good manager. He has all the necessary requirements, plus he's not afraid to take a chance or a risk. Hire him." 

Maybe someday Ross will contact Maddon for a job recommendation, but that's somewhere off in the future. For now, he needs to figure out a way to impress Carrie Ann Inaba, the "Dancing With The Stars" judge who was booed by a sold out crowd Monday at Wrigley Field after giving Ross' waltz a "seven" rating (the other three judges rated Ross' dance as an eight). 

"I'm enjoying the heck out of it," Ross said. "You think good things happen to good people, you try to do good things and hope it pays off, but I wasn't trying for any of this. I was just being myself and that's what I think the people appreciate." 

Why Andy Green is such an important part of the Cubs coaching calculus

Why Andy Green is such an important part of the Cubs coaching calculus

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On the day he was introduced as the next Cubs manager, David Ross made it a point to explain how important it is that his bench coach is "one step ahead" of him as he gets his feet under him.

Theo Epstein echoed that sentiment, saying a bench coach with managerial experience was vital as the Cubs help Ross along as not only a first-year manager, but also a first year coach.

Enter Andy Green.

The 42-year-old Green spent the last four seasons as the San Diego Padres manager, but was fired with one week left in the 2019 season and two years left on his current deal. The Padres wanted a different voice moving into the future after Green compiled a 274-366 record and lost at least 85 games each season, finishing no higher than fourth place in the National League West.

But the Cubs don't want Green to be the manager and they love what he brings to the table as a veteran coach and Ross' right-hand man. 

"Talking to the Padre guys that I know well, he has excellent in-game strategy and always thought ahead very well in-game," Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. "Very bright, very well prepared. And that's not to mention he's a really good coach. We felt like that was a really good pairing for David. He hasn't managed, so having a guy next to him that, by all accounts, was really good in-game and controls information well, I think that's a really nice pairing."

At his introductory presser, Ross acknowledged his weaknesses as a first-time manager and admitted he will need some time to get the "feel" back of being in the dugout and engaged in each pitch after serving as either a broadcaster or front office executive for the last three years.

As a player, Ross often tried to think and strategize along with his manager, but that's not the same as actually having to make those calls and worry about pitching changes, pinch-hitting, umpire challenges and any other in-game duties a manger is tasked with. It can all add up quickly and managers often have to make the crucial decisions at the snap of a finger.

Ross and Green have not worked together, but the Cubs are hoping they can form a fast friendship and believe Green's ability to prepare is also an asset along with his experience. 

"He's gonna be great at [the bench coach job]," Padres GM A.J. Preller said. "I think it's gonna be a really good thing for somebody that's in that [manager's] chair for the first time having somebody that's gonna be knowledgeable, prepared, detail-oriented and somebody that understands what it's like to sit in that seat. I think all those things are gonna help serve [Green] really well."

Preller and Green reportedly didn't always see eye-to-eye in the big picture view of where the Padres were going, but there's no denying how the San Diego GM feels about his former manager's intellect and the Cubs won't need him to call the shots — only to assist Ross in doing so.

"Andy is probably one of the most intelligent baseball people I've been around," Preller said. "To me, probably as good a person as I've been around as far as Xs and Os and knowing the game. Andy always seemed to be two or three steps ahead. He's very well thought out, very well prepared. It's gonna be a huge strength for him and I think it will be nice for a first-year manager to have somebody like Andy sitting next to him."

A bench coach's exact duties vary from team to team and manager to manager, but with the Cubs, they will lean on Green initially to help Ross along with the experience aspect, making sure the game is not too quick for the first-year manager. During games, Green will be standing right next to Ross, weighing decisions and options along with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy.

But like other bench coaches, Green will also be tasked with helping to serve as a bridge between Ross and the Cubs players. In a lot of ways, Ross is the face of the franchise, as he will partake in somewhere around 500 media sessions throughout the course of the season, including before and after each game. Between that, addressing the team as a group, individual meetings with players and all the strategy and discussions with the R & D department and the front office, Ross will need to lean on Green to be his right-hand man off the field, as well.

It helps that Green just finished managing in the National League, where he knows the opponents and the game is quite different than the American League, which has the benefit of the designated hitter.

"He's a guy that understands all different aspects [of being a coach]," Preller said. "He understands some of the newer information, some of the newer technology. He's gonna understand things that have worked in the past in terms of preparing for games from an advanced information standpoint and then he'll draw upon his experiences being in the National League, knowing the league really well.

"I think he'll be able to give all those things to David Ross and to the Cubs players — somebody who comes in with the mindset of just trying to help the team out and help the team grow. All those things are going to be positives."

We'll see how quickly Ross and Green can jell together, but it's clear the Cubs believe Green can help expediate the process of preparation and in-game strategy for Ross, both now and in-season.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ned Colletti interview

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ned Colletti interview

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan talks with former Cubs front office executive and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti on how to fix a major league roster, when to deal a player who is heading into free agency, and more

01:30 How he moved from MLB to being a scout in the NHL

04:30 How to fix a major league roster

06:40 On building the roster when other teams know your weaknesses

09:30 When to deal a player who is facing free agency

11:30 Balancing trying to win now vs. building a team for a sustained run

14:30 On how a GM can't depend only on signing a big free agent

18:00 On his time with the Cubs in the 1980s

19:45 On how a GM deals with Scott Boras

22:00 On how a GM deals with talk radio and the media

26:00 On how he almost got CC Sabathia on the Dodgers for 2008 playoff run

28:00 On how not trading for Ryan Dempster helped bring Kyle Hendricks to the Cubs

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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