David Ross Likes Cubs' DH Depth

By 670 The Score
(670 The Score) After a long delay to the start of the MLB season amid the coronavirus pandemic, first-year Cubs manager David Ross is more than ready to get his new career going.

The time off has given him plenty of time to think as well, and one of the topics on his mind now is figuring out who to utilize in the designated hitter spot after it was implemented in the National League for the 2020 season for the first time. In a media session Monday, Ross mentioned outfielder Kyle Schwarber, outfielder Steven Souza Jr., catcher Willson Contreras and catcher Vic Caratini as the possible strong fits for the role.

"We certainly have some depth in that area ... Kyle and Souza, Vic or Willson are guys I imagine in that dynamic," Ross said. "In this short little sprint, it's about balancing the rest with the guys giving us the best at-bats. We will have to read at-bats as we go. You won't have a huge sample size of who is ready to go and squaring the ball up.

"We do have a lot of options the way our roster is set up now. I have actually had this conversation with (Schwarber), and I think we are on the same page. He is ready to do whatever I ask him to do. He is comfortable with the DH spot. I told him he would not be strictly a DH."

While he has plenty to figure out still, Ross does have a concrete plan at the top of the lineup. Third baseman Kris Bryant is set to lead off, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo will hit second. 

 "I really like our lineup with KB at the top," Ross said. "I like Rizz following suite. I think the DH just slots us a little deeper at the bottom of our lineup. I don't see much change in that."

The Cubs will start on-field workouts at Wrigley Field on Friday. The workouts will be conducted in smaller groups adhering the the health protocols agreed to by MLB and the players' union.

"I certainly want to get my eyes on the players and see where they are at physically," Ross said. "I know the hitters have stayed in pretty good shape. We will start that live batting practice pretty early. We will get right into intrasquad games. We have many guys who stayed in shape. We have pitchers who have built up to three innings and above in sim games. We will start as many mini-intrasquad games as soon as we can."

Ross understands managing in 2020 will be different than envisioned.

"There will be numerous challenges for all of us," he said. "With this unique season comes unique circumstances. We will all be adjusting on the fly. The one thing I will urge my players to do is to try and find a positive in all of this. As players, we are very routine-oriented. Those routines will be dropped into a bucket and dumped out all over the place.

"We have the right type of group to deal with this. What we are asking the players to do is extremely difficult. I don't want to make light of how hard this environment is going to be. We have professionals coming to work with a job to do. I trust they will put there best foot forward."

What hasn't changed for Ross is that once the MLB season gets going on July 23 -- that's Opening Day, though most teams will start July 24 -- he will have his eyes on the prize.

"If the are handing out a trophy and rings, I want them," Ross said.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.