Gregg: Cubs' David Ross Talks Respect, Taking On New Role

Rick Gregg
October 28, 2019 - 2:33 pm
Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs, (L) David Ross, new manager of the Chicago Cubs (C) and Jed Hoyer, general manager of the Cubs (R) pose for a photo as Ross is introduced to the media at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2019

David Banks/Getty Images

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Chicago Cubs introduced David Ross as the 55th manager in franchise history on Monday. 

The Chicago Cubs hired the former catcher David Ross to replace Joe Maddon as their manager, hoping he can help them get back to the playoffs after missing out for the first since 2014.

The Cubs announced last week a three-year deal with Ross with a club option for the 2023 season.

Ross played the final two of his 15 major league seasons with the Cubs and was a revered leader on the 2016 team that won the World Series, ending a championship drought dating to 1908. He spent the past three years in Chicago's front office and was widely viewed as a potential replacement for Maddon, who compiled a 471-339-1 record in five seasons.

Ross has no coaching or managing experience.

WBBM Newsradio's Rick Gregg spoke to David Ross following the team's press conference.

WBBM: David Ross is the 55th manager of the Chicago Cubs. Congratulations! Has that number set in for you yet?

"The first time I heard it I thought that's pretty cool, double nickles," Ross laughed. "I used to call one of the coaches that, so I guess that's me as a manager now. Super excited, this day has been amazing - the press conference, all that's gone into it, I was nervous coming in, but trying to soak in this moment. It's not everyday you get this opportunity, and I don't take it for granted and I am so thankful for so many people that have put me into this situation and in this seat, and I am excited moving forward trying to win some ballgames."

WBBM: During this news conference, if there was one word that came up over and over again, I thought it was respect. I would like to know what does respect mean to David Ross?

"Respect for me, I think, you know we always talk about people earning respect, I take a different approach. I want to give guys respect. I am going to give my players respect and I expect their respect in return, until you lose that or do something that maybe jeopardizes that," Ross said. "I'm a guy that I want respect you, to treat you like a man, to not micromanage you as a person or player or the things that make you tick as a baseball player. I am going to give you the freedoms and respect that you deserve and I am going to expect some things out of you. I'm going to expect you to be accountable, I am going to expect you to play hard, I am going to expect your best effort, to be prepared - those things that will all be given, and when it's not, that's when we have to have a tough conversation. That's where the accountability comes in and calling each other out and keeping everybody on the same page."

WBBM: You talks a lot about that tough conversation, and also these are friends of yours, in many cases, guys you have know for a long time. How do you walk that line between hard case and motivator? Because it is a pretty thin one.

"Yeah, I think it all starts with being genuine and knowing - letting the players know that you love them, you care about them, creating relationships where they know your heart wants what's best for them, so then when you give them the tough conversations, they know it comes from a place of respect and love. I always respected my managers that shot me straight, whether it was a good conversation or a bad. Just knowing where you stand and the honesty from your manager goes a long way," Ross said.

WBBM: The x's and o's part of it, I think you expect to hire somebody experienced to guide you through the beginning of that. Is that fair?

"I still process, I'm going to go through and sit down and look at everybody, talk to my coaching staff that is still onboard with the Cubs now and have some conversation with them, and then look outside for some areas that I think we need to upgrade," Ross said.

WBBM: Is it fair to say that a part of your job, or a large part of your job, is carrying the front office's message through to the players, so they understand it? Even though you want to be your own man, I am not questioning that - just saying to be effectively communicating that message?

"Yeah, I mean there is a lot of great information up there from the front office, and a lot of hard work goes into setting these guys up for success," Ross said. "But there is a balance of communicating what they want, and also I am kind of the go-between, sometimes the players have some messages that they want to go up top. So I think it is collaborative. I think all the good organizations I have been on, the winning teams I have been on, it's a collaborative effort from the front office all the way down to the training staff, the clubhouse guys, the bat boys. It takes everybody to win a championship, and that's what we want to do here."

WBBM: You predecessor told a lot of stories about growing up in Hazleton. You got any good ones from growing up in Bainbridge, Georgia? 

"No, I was born in Bainbridge, but lived in Tallahassee, Florida, raised there my whole life. Just that it is a good, humble town. Those people shaped me into who I am, my beliefs. I love Tallahassee. It's a good college town, lots of sporting events at FSU. I just love those people. You are getting a lot of Tallahassee in me. We got a little redneck in us from there and some country music, I am a country music fan," Ross said.

WBBM: And some Bobby Cox too. You mentioned him not only today, but also in the introductory statement a couple days ago, when they sent out an email, you were sure to highlight him. I know you told the story today, but what values did you gain from Bobby?

"Well Bobby, again, the respect thing - he treated everybody the same, like a man. He did not necessarily have this big structure of when stretch time were and there's a couple of expectations, like he wanted you to wear what he wanted you to wear when we were on the road and at batting practice. He expected good effort and you were going to get his loyalty and he was going to have your back and he was going to be positive," Ross said. "Setting those standards and they never wavered from Bobby. He was a very positive man in negative moments. When he spoke, he did not have to speak too much about expectations, but when he spoke, you listened, because you knew the man had your back and gave you a lot of freedom. I want to give my players a lot of freedom, but expectations on a daily basis for them to know what I expect."