Cubs

'Grandpa Rossy' playing free and easy in final season with Cubs

'Grandpa Rossy' playing free and easy in final season with Cubs

David Ross pumped his fist and jogged back to the dugout, high-fiving Jon Lester and fellow Cubs teammates along the way.

As far as celebrations go, this one was pretty tame for Ross, but it was also just the top of the second inning in a scoreless ballgame in April against the team with the worst record in baseball.

Ross is a fun-loving guy who typically celebrates everything he can, but he's also taking it all in and playing free and easy during his victory lap before he retires at the end of the season.

We've seen him skip around on the bases, douse teammates in ice showers and whatever that celebration is in the dugout that may be a little NSFW

"He's always stopped and smelled the roses," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's unique. Different cat from what I've had in the past."

Ross also has more to celebrate this season, hitting .267 with an .851 OPS. He's already scored more runs (8) than he did all of last season (6) in almost 150 fewer plate appearances and has an OPS more than 300 points higher than 2015 (.518).

Over the first month of the season, Ross has twice as many homers as he hit in 2015.

"At least I'm contributing and working at-bats and making the guys throw rather than three pitches to get me out," Ross said. "I'm just trying to have good at-bats and being a part of this group. 

"These guys pride themselves on going up there and being tough outs and I just want to get in the mix."

The 39-year-old has also done a solid job of limiting the running game, throwing out four baserunners already this year.

Ross also caught his first career no-hitter last month in Cincinnati and sports a sparkling 1.64 catcher's ERA

"He's playing at a really high level right now, regardless of his age," Maddon said. "He playing at a really high level offensively, defensively, the way he takes command or control of the game. You don't see catchers take control as well as he takes control these days.

"He's not afraid to say something out to the pitcher or the defense. He had a coversation with the umpire [Friday]. He does a lot of things that guys don't really do a whole lot anymore."

After Friday's win over the Braves, Ross joked that his teammates keep asking him why everybody always thinks he's so nice even though he spends so much time yelling at everybody.

Ross admitted he does get on Lester a lot because he looks at the veteran southpaw as a little brother and expects a lot out of him.

Lester obviously appreciates that from his personal catcher.

"Rossy stinks," Lester joked after his start Friday. "I'm tired of Rossy. I'm tired of dealing with him. You guys don't get to see the other side that I get to see.

"I mean, obviously Rossy is a big contributor on a lot of different levels. ... He's had some really good ABs for us this year. This guy is the consummate professional. He's the guy that enver takes a play off, whether he's in the dugout or in the game.

"He always expects the best from everybody, so it's nice to see the reward for the work he's put in to get where he's at. I don't want to keep talking good about him because then he'll probably get wind of it and then I won't hear the end of it."

The Cubs entered the season with Ross figuring to fill a role as pseudo-coach, part-time catcher and full-time cheerleader with Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero also available behind the plate. 

But both Schwarber and Montero are now on the disabled list and Ross is currently the guy sharing the catching duties with recent call-up Tim Federowicz.

The situation may have changed, but Grandpa Rossy's self-awareness hasn't.

"I know I can't catch every day," he said. "I'll tell you that. I know I'm not an everyday catcher. Nope. Not that guy."

Ross also won't credit his uptick in playing time as a reason for his increased productivity this season.

"I've been doing this backup thing for a long time," he said. "It's just about having confidence in your approach and what you're doing up there.

"The everyday at-bats: Sometimes that helps, sometimes it doesn't. Depends on how you feel. I've had a good approach; I've worked on it since spring and this offseason and I just feel a lot better at the plate. That's the bottom line."

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

cubs_podcast_offense_slid.jpg
USA TODAY

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Luke Stuckmeyer and Tony Andracki discuss the comments Chili Davis made after being fired as Cubs hitting coach, ask if the Cubs struggles on offense were Davis' fault or the players and what Anthony Iapoce will be walking into as he tries to gets the team back on track a the plate.

 

Listen to the entire podcast here, or in the embedded player below:

 

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

The changing of the guard continues for the Cubs this offseason. 

After the team hired a new hitting coach yesterday, it was reported today that they're losing a front office member: 

Rehman, who has been with the Cubs in the same position for the last seven years, will reportedly head up the Rangers' analytics department. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rehman's role was " evaluating existing systems, and recognizing and applying solutions in an effort to create competitive advantages for the organization." 

All reports indicate that he'll be doing similar analytic-based work with the Rangers.