What did Cubs manager David Ross learn watching the team from a different perspective — at home on his couch — over the last week?
“Probably not to scream as much on borderline pitches,” Ross joked Sunday. “A lot of them are balls.”
Ross was back watching the Cubs from his usual post Sunday: in the dugout. It marked his first game back from a nine-day isolation period after he tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
“I missed these guys,” Ross said. “Working with and being part of a team, it feels good. Being home by yourself, I realized I don't like myself that much.
“It's just a lot of appreciation and you feel thankful that you have a job and get to come to work every day in front of thousands of people.”
Ross last managed the Cubs on Sept. 2, a walk-off win over the Pirates. He learned later that night he had tested positive.
Ross began isolating and bench coach Andy Green served as acting manager. Ross remained asymptomatic throughout his absence, something he’s grateful for.
“It’s all over the news that I'm sick and I had a bunch of buddies reach out and check on me, because they had had it and been vaccinated and felt terrible,” said Ross, who is vaccinated.
“I feel like I was lucky not to feel bad, so I tried to just enjoy the downtime as much as I possibly could and keep that perspective of like, ‘It could be a lot worse.’”
Ross and team president Jed Hoyer tested positive, but the Cubs avoided a team-wide outbreak that other clubs have dealt with this season. They did not report any other positive tests.
“You're never really out of the clear, right?” Ross said. “We're all dealing with this. For me, that was probably one of the harder parts, is just feeling like you put the whole organization at risk for guys getting sick.”
Green managed the Cubs to a 5-3 record during Ross’ absence, which includes the first game of Ross’ isolation in which Green was ejected for arguing with an umpire.
The rest of the Cubs coaching staff collaborated to handle managerial duties that game, a 6-5 win on Sept. 3.
“What a great staff I have,” Ross said. “Nothing skipped a beat here. You realize how much you appreciate all the hard work, from Andy and Tommy [Hottovy] and [hitting coach Anthony Iapoce] and the group here.
“It’s just a really special coaching staff that does a lot. You see the guys played great.”
Ross remained involved in the Cubs’ day-to-day operations while at home, making the lineup and talking with the coaching staff and front office before and after games on the phone.
But nothing beats being there in person.
“Definitely after the wins you’re super happy,” Ross said, “but also like, ‘Man, I'd love to be in the locker room with the music playing and high fiving the team.’”