Cubs battle hungry A’s in first spring training game

Khris Davis #2, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Khris Davis
Khris Davis #2, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Khris Davis /
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Chicago Cubs
Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Ross’ first game as a manager

Somewhere on Ross’ desk, under a stack of papers and statistics, batting averages, proposed lineups and defensive rotations is most likely a sticky note or card from someone close to Ross that says, “Win.”  Before trades and free agency, media interviews and meetings this was the entire focus for Ross: just win.

It will be fascinating and telling to see how aggressive Ross comes out in spring training. Will he attack or lay back? Will he be trying different combinations of players to see what can work for the season, or will he be more concerned with protecting his team’s ability and health and hiding his talent during Spring Training?

Ross has already gotten comfortable with Spring Training practice, empowering his coaches and players at all levels to work with each other and, above all – communicate. It’s been said that this approach has really gotten some players off the bench and excited again.

Pitcher’s Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Craig Kimbrel have all been pulling some “team-time” as they have been sticking around to watch the younger player’s workouts and as Ross hopes – communicate.

While Ross is hoping his players are communicating with each other, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein is hoping Ross is communicating with everyone else to get the team winning.

As he told Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times recently:

"“The manager has to set up his coaching staff in a way that in-game he can get the information he needs from them, bounce opinions off of them, ultimately make the decision himself on when to take out a pitcher, when to leave in a pitcher, who to pinch-hit,’’ Epstein said. “Everything is his responsibility. How we align our defense, the running game, late-game strategy. Everything that happens in the field is a result of his execution, armed with information that’s an organizational-wide effort.  But it’s ultimately on the manager. I think there are a lot of wins out there to go grab. We talked . . . about the wins that are right out in front of you, to be prepared and go execute and grab those wins. The best managers can do that.’’"

Ross feels he is ready to show that the Cubs can and will win. He is adamant that his whole purpose now is to make the Cubs win it all.  That sentiment is refreshing considering every writer and critic in MLB thinks the Cubs will be a mess this year with a new manager, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant trade rumors, and very little expansion via free agency this season.

The one recent free-agent pickup of second baseman, Jason Kipnis, is something the Athletics were looking to do as well.