CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs will reportedly hire David Ross as their next manager.
Multiple outlets confirmed the news Wednesday morning.
While Ross, 42, has no managerial experience, Cubs President Theo Epstein would be banking on the leadership Ross showed during a 15-year playing career, which culminated with the Cubs’ 2016 World Series title, and the evaluation skills Ross honed the last three seasons as a special assistant in baseball operations.
Epstein chose not to extend Joe Maddon’s contract after the Cubs missed the playoffs this year for the first time since 2014, blowing a 31/2-game lead in the NL Central with 47 games left. They went 19-27 in one-run games and 20-36 in road night games, and Epstein said their 73.8% contact rate was the worst in baseball.
One day after parting with Maddon, Epstein said the next Cubs manager “will be a success if he can get the most out of each player.”
“It’s an obvious goal,” Epstein said, “but we want to make sure the players we have, we’re developing them and creating an environment where they can continue to grow and thrive. If we have players who can be successful major-league players, we have to find a way to make it here.”
As soon as Maddon’s departure was official, many players expressed their familiarity with Ross, who played for the Cubs in 2015-16.
“When it came down to it, he’s my boss,” pitcher Jon Lester said. “Whoever that (next manager) is, if it is Rossy, I’m sure we’ll butt heads just like I did with Joe.
“At the same time, I’ll respect the hell out of him. And he’s my boss. He makes the decision, he makes the decision. And you have to respect that.”
Shortstop Javier Baez added: “We all love David, and he knows the team and the organization.”
The Cubs search for a new manager included interviews with Astros bench coach Joe Espada, former major-league managers Joe Girardi and Gabe Kapler and Cubs coaches Mark Loretta and Will Venable.
Despite not joining the Cubs until 2015, Ross quickly became a fan and clubhouse favorite. First baseman Anthony Rizzo dubbed him “Grandpa” because he was much older than the young core that played instrumental roles in the World Series title.
Even though he was signed in part to be Lester’s personal catcher, Ross never was content to take a back-seat role. That was evident during one of his first spring training workouts with the Cubs. Ross noticed that Rizzo didn’t execute a rundown properly and stopped the drill until Rizzo acknowledged he made a mistake.
A seventh-round draft pick by the Dodgers in 1998 out of the University of Florida, Ross reached the majors in 2002 and hit his first major-league home run off Mark Grace in a 19-1 win over the Diamondbacks.
After two more seasons in the Dodgers organization, Ross played for the Pirates and Padres in 2005, then had a 21/2-year stint with the Reds, who released him in August 2008. He quickly signed with the Red Sox, whose general manager at the time was Epstein.
Ross signed with the Braves as a free agent in 2009 and played for Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox for the first two seasons of his four-year stint in Atlanta. He rejoined the Red Sox in 2013 and won a World Series title with Lester.
Ross had a .229 career, 106 home runs and 314 RBIs in 883 games. He hit 10 home runs for the 2016 Cubs plus two in the postseason, including one in Game 7 of the World Series.
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