MESA, Ariz. -- After hearing Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon talk after workouts on Friday, it sounds like he’s indeed leaning toward having newcomer David Ross behind the plate whenever ace lefty Jon Lester is on the mound, though the final decision hasn’t been made yet.
Maddon watched Ross catch a batting practice session earlier in the day and saw why the two work so well together. Their communication was in mid-season form.
“On the surface it looks like you want David to catch Jon,” Maddon said.
Some might think this was a fait accompli, as Ross has caught Lester the last couple of years with plenty of success. With him behind the plate in 29 Lester starts, the pitcher’s ERA is 2.77. That’s best among any catcher who has caught him at least 12 times. But Ross’ bat isn’t what it used to be -- he hit .184 overall last year and just .158 against righties -- so the Cubs could really be sacrificing offense by sitting the lefty Miguel Montero when they’re facing a right-handed pitcher.
“Sometimes the comfort between the pitcher and catcher, and the defensive component, can outweigh the offensive side of it too,” Maddon said. “I haven’t wrapped my mind totally around it.”
As every Cubs fan knows, the team is more than likely to face one of the toughest righties in the league on Opening Night against the St. Louis Cardinals. Here’s the question: Do you want Ross behind the plate for Lester or Montero in the batter’s box facing Adam Wainwright? Maddon has a tough decision to make.
MLBPA meeting: The Cubs were visited by the Major League Baseball Players Association on Friday morning, as they are annually at this time of year. Ross says the 90-minute meeting touched on a lot of items.
“It was very informative,” he said later in the day. “A lot going on. Bargaining is up at the end of 2016, so that part is coming. You start preparing yourself and get informed.
“We touched on everything. Pace of game, meal money, salary, we covered it all. Old or new, we touched on it all. That’s why it’s an hour-and-a half.”
On the mend: Pitcher CJ Edwards has a fingernail issue.
“We might need to send him to a manicurist,” Maddon said. “They need to trim his nails up.”
“I grabbed Manny’s stuff and put everything in my locker and told him he was going to be here with me,” Baez joked. “The next day he moved all his stuff out.”
Rain coming: The forecast for rain over the next four days in the Phoenix area could throw routines off for many Cactus League teams, including the Cubs. They’re better prepared to handle it as their spring facility has covered batting and pitching areas, but fundamental work is where the Cubs might get behind schedule, according to Maddon. Plus, it negatively affects the manager’s daily bike ride.