Chicago Cubs' Ross taking low-key approach to final season

MESA Ariz. - It's usually no big deal when a backup catcher says he's going to retire from baseball.

And the Chicago Cubs' David Ross said Saturday he doesn't want to make it a big deal when he calls it quits after the 2016 season.

"This isn't about me," said Ross, who turns 39 on March 19. "There's so much good going on here. I don't think it should ever be about a backup catcher who's retiring who's a .220 hitter or whatever I am. If it's about me, we're in trouble."

For the record, Ross is a lifetime .228 hitter in a career that also includes big-league stops with the Dodgers, Pirates, Padres, Reds, Red Sox and Braves.

Cubs management brought Ross in last year, in part to work with pitcher Jon Lester, whom Ross caught in Boston, and also to provide leadership in the clubhouse.

So manager Joe Maddon is more than happy to look past the numbers Ross puts up at the plate.

"The numbers you're looking at are batting average, his offensive numbers, and that's just part of his game," Maddon said. "It's really significant to him and to us what he does otherwise as a catcher.

"He calls a great game, understands the opposition, handles pitchers beautifully. Preparation wise, he's magnificent.

"Too many times you portray players as being clubhouse leaders, and that's done way too loosely sometimes for me. With him it's legitimate. He is a clubhouse leader.

"Why? In spite of not hitting .275 or better, he still creates the stature and maintains the stature within the clubhouse because of the respect people have for him about the way he goes about his business. And when he says something, it's pertinent. It's right on."

Ross added he's focused on the season at hand and not any farewell tour.

"There's no last this or last that," he said. "I'm going to look forward to this ride. I feel like I need to prepare myself so I'm not the weak link on this team. I want to be a guy that contributes to this team.

"I want to have the best year I possibly can to fit in with this group that's super talented."

Time to reflect:

Ace pitcher Jake Arrieta is a noted workout freak, but he did take time to enjoy winning the 2015 Cy Young Award.

"I took a couple weeks off," he said. "I get pretty anxious to start moving around and being physical again and staying active. So it's hard for me to take much time off.

"We took a couple weeks to really reflect and take some time with family and friends to enjoy the season and look back on things that were extremely positive and areas where maybe we came up a little short.

"With the Cy Young, it's unique because it's a drawn-out process. You don't really find out until a quarter of the off-season through. There's a little bit of nervousness and anxiety that comes with that.

"Winning the Cy Young was really special, kind of icing on the cake to top everything off and to put the season finally at rest and behind us.

"The most special part of the off-season for me was probably being with my family in New York for the Baseball Writers dinner. That was just an incredible experience we'll remember for a long time."

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