BALTIMORE — Three seasons into his managing career, David Ross still checks in with his former manager, Joe Maddon, for advice.
“All the time,” Ross said.
Not surprisingly, the news of Maddon’s firing by the Angels struck a chord and heartstrings in the clubhouse, none more than with the few left who played for the historic 2016 championship team Maddon managed.
“That’s a sucky thing to hear. I love Joe,” said Ross, a backup catcher in his final big-league season in 2016, who eventually became Maddon’s replacement in Chicago in 2020.
“He’s done a lot for me and was a great manager for me,” Ross said. “I don’t know what’s going on in Anaheim from that standpoint, but my thoughts just go out to him. I sent him a text message telling him I was thinking about him.”
Said Willson Contreras, who was Maddon's rookie starting catcher for five of seven World Series games: "He was my first manager. I love him to death. I don't know what happened there."
Maddon was one of Ross’ biggest supporters during an interview process that also included Joe Girardi and Astros bench coach Joe Espada, after Maddon was fired by the Cubs following a fifth winning season in five years.
“I’m a big David fan,” Maddon told the Sun-Times the day his hiring by the Angels was official — and one week before the Cubs hired longtime heir apparent Ross. “One of the biggest reasons I can say I’m a World Series champion [manager] is because of him.
“If he would take the job next, there’s nothing I would love more than that.”
Maddon, 68, said in 2019 he hoped to manage five more years. It’s unclear if he will pursue other jobs at this point or who might offer one.
He ranks 31st all-time with 1,382 managerial wins in 19 seasons, and his Cubs championship and World Series appearance with the Rays — among eight postseason appearances — puts him in the Hall Fame conversation.
“I have as ton of respect for Joe,” Ross said. “He’s a man I’ve learned a lot of baseball from. A lot of my managerial philosophies, the way I handle things, [come] a lot from the example he set when he was my manager.”