A silhouette appeared at the top of a Wrigley Rooftops building beyond right field, backlit by the bright sky over Lake Michigan.
The Cubs players huddled up the third baseline Monday morning raised their hands and shouted. The figure acknowledged them and made his way down through the rooftop stadium seats, his dog by his side. It was Cubs manager David Ross.
“I got a nice seat over there," he said Tuesday, after returning to the team. "I got to watch the practice. The energy was good. I could hear the guys.”
Ross and five other Tier 1 individuals kept a safe distance from Wrigley Field on Monday, while waiting for COVID-19 test results. Despite frequent delays, Cubs leadership, from Ross to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein to general manager Jed Hoyer, has expressed confidence that the testing process will only get smoother.
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On Tuesday Ross described Summer Camp as “a great testing time for them to iron some things out.”
He added: “We’re dealing with circumstances that have never been dealt with before.”
Since the clubs settled into an every-other-day testing schedule, the Cubs have pushed back workouts twice and were missing players once while waiting for test results. During that period, the team has been tested five times. Ross said he expects the results of the most recent tests, which the Cubs took Monday, by Tuesday night.
So, delays have become the norm in the first week and a half of Summer Camp. Is that what the Cubs can expect during the regular season?
“Every day there’s more and more improvements,” Ross said. “There’s another site opening up on the East Coast that should help put a lot from just sheerly the time zone constraints. … There’s going to be some adjustments to routing.”
On Monday, the issue arose from batch testing. By the afternoon, the Cubs had received the results of five of the pending tests – all negative, NBC Sports Chicago confirmed. The sixth case, which was not a player or Ross, required a new test. The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney first reported the test results.
Ross noted in a press release that “situations like this have not been a worrisome indicator of a positive test result to date,” but he and the other five affected individuals would not attend Monday’s workouts “out of an abundance of caution.”
David Ross watched practice from a rooftop yesterday. (Forgive the quality of the picture.)— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) July 14, 2020
“It was nice. I got a nice seat over there. I got to watch the practice. The energy was good. I could hear the guys.” pic.twitter.com/WnBKAzd7gG
He didn’t go far.
“It was miserable,” Ross said. “Your team’s here working and you want to be a part of it, and there’s no way around that.”
Missing six Tier 1 individuals for a morning workout: a minor inconvenience. But what will the league do if the same issue arises the day of a game, especially an afternoon game?
“You’re very, very rarely going to have an instance when five guys are hurt on the same day,” pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. “So, when we get these pending test, that’s the unique part about this, is when are we going to get them back?
“If we had five pending tests and … one was a, let’s say, starting pitcher, one was your starting second baseman, one was your starting catcher, that’s a huge chunk of your team that day. So, it’s going to be interesting to see how the protocols come into place about those pending tests.
Ross said the league is still working to address those issues.