Where once there was Rossy, now there is Manager David. It’s a transition that’s been much harder for some fans to grasp than it has players, but there’s probably a little residual weirdness for a few members of the roster just the same. Some of these players now have a friend as a boss and others are being managed by a guy they know more from Dancing with the Stars or the ESPN booth.
“It’s funny how different people in the locker room have said hi to him the first time seeing him,” Nico Hoerner said Thursday. “Some of them, it’s like seeing an old friend and they just kind of push him around and say whatever. And other people, it’s like, ‘Oh, Mr. Ross. It’s nice to meet you.'”
Who the hell is Mr. Ross? To the best of my knowledge, that was not among the list of pre-approved monikers we were going to be using this season. Hoerner is allowed this one gaffe on the grounds that he’s been too focused on his development to concern himself with how to properly address his manager.
Another player who isn’t worried about what to call his manager, likely because he’s already used about every name in the book, is Jon Lester. Something of a package deal when they came to the Cubs in 2015, Lester has worked with Ross more than any other catcher and is the player about whom people had the most questions when it came to the new dynamic.
“I don’t know if you guys know this, but he took me out of games plenty of times when I was pitching,” Lester told the media in Mesa. “So this won’t be anything new. I laughed when I saw it for the first time about somebody said this is going to be interesting, with Rossy taking me out of a game. I’ve never disrespected my manager, regardless of who it is and regardless of my relationship with that individual.”
“He’s my boss. Is that weird? Yes, but he’s my boss.”
The really funny part about this new iteration of their relationship is that there should never have been any doubt about whether Ross would be comfortable going out to the mound to take the ball from the lefty. I mean, c’mon, the rookie manager has already been practicing doing exactly that with Tyler Chatwood. In all seriousness, Ross was frequently called upon by his own managers to provide an assessment of his battery-mate, and that often meant telling them Lester was done.
You think someone who’s already done that dozens of times is suddenly going to have a problem with it just because he’s not wearing a chest protector? Nah, Manager David is going to be just fine.
“We’ve got a tight relationship,” Ross said Thursday. “I would say I’m almost too honest with him — if that can be a thing — of what I expect out of him and where I think he is. He’s in a good place and I’m proud of him and I’m happy where he’s at.
“[I’m] excited, you know, I really still think he’s a special top-of-the-rotation pitcher, [and I’ll] tell him the stuff that I really believe and where he can improve and how I want him to kind of affect the young guys and so much that he can bring.”
The real question isn’t whether Ross will be comfortable taking the ball from Lester, but whether the southpaw will pitch well enough to ensure that fans are upset when it happens.