Ross lays out Cubs' plan for final two months

As the Cubs returned to Wrigley Field Friday, manager David Ross talked about the plan for the final two months of the season, with the team well outside the playoff race and fewer than expected deals made at the trade deadline.

The Cubs traded away four relief pitchers before the deadline - David Robertson, Mychal Givens, Scott Effross and Chris Martin.

For position players, they actually added pieces, acquiring Zach McKinstry from the Dodgers for Martin, while second baseman Nick Madrigal returned from the injured list. That's why the Cubs sent David Bote back to Iowa on Thursday.

Ross talked about Madrigal getting two days on, one day off the rest of the way to try to keep him healthy as the Cubs think about what the roster will look like next year and beyond.

"We'll try to get that picture painted or that puzzle put together as good as possible and see where the holes might be," Ross said. "Talking with the front office, seeing what might be on the free agent market, what the holes might be, where the versatility is for us.

"Also, (once) the game starts, none of that is in play. I'm going to manage the game to win the game."

Even though the Cubs started the day 22 games below .500, there might still be some high-pressure situations when the Cubs face teams that are still fighting for playoff spots. Ross talked about those moments being important while evaluating young players.

"There will be times where I might not make the pinch hit and see if a guy can handle the moment or the right-on-right matchup or the left-on-left matchup, whatever that is," he said. "We've got also to let some of the young bullpen arms work through adversity, see what that looks like.

"There's real power in having a tough outing as a young guy and having a double play and getting out of it. That can take your career (upward), just that one moment. Scott Effross comes to mind. Getting out of jams, being in the bigger moments. You've got to let some of that play out. Guys will show you what you're made of in the adversity moments, so you've got to let them do that."

Friday's lineup was probably not indicative of what's ahead, since it was a short turnaround after playing a doubleheader in St. Louis. Nico Hoerner, who started both games Thursday, got the day off and Christopher Morel played shortstop.

Patrick Wisdom started at first for the second straight game, opening up third base for McKinstry. Ross talked about wanting to get more at-bats for outfielder Nelson Velazquez, while acknowledging Willson Contreras, Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki will continue to be lineup regulars.

"(We'll) kind of be flexible with some of the younger guys and moving them around and just see what they're versatility brings, where we feel like their best position is," Ross said. "I don't think that will be difficult. You'll see those same staples that have been in there, the all-stars (Contreras and Happ) are going to be in there."


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