For Ross, having fun with Chicago Cubs never gets old
Everybody wants to talk about the kids on the Cubs.
But, hey, let's not forget the old man.
Catcher David Ross, who has turned into somewhat of a cult hero in what he says is his last season as a player, added to the legend Friday in a 9-4 over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field. The victory snapped a mini two-game skid and moved the Cubs' record to 26-8.
It was the kids who got the Cubs started, with Addison Russell hitting a 3-run homer in the fourth inning and Kris Bryant igniting the 5-run fifth with a 2-run homer.
Ross added the cherry on top later that inning with a 3-run blast.
Speaking of that kind of stuff, it has been a party every day with Ross, who now has 99 home runs for his career. His teammates have been celebrating with a countdown in the dugout.
"I am 39, that's all right," Ross said. "That's part of the reason why I'm having so much fun. I'm older. I can appreciate some things. When you have a group like this and you're part of it, when you've been around a little while and you see a special group, you should enjoy it. I try not to take that for granted because this is a really fun group."
Ross, a career backup thrust into heavy duty because of an injury to No. 1 catcher Miguel Montero, has been known for his defense more than his offense.
And that's rightly so, says manager Joe Maddon.
"The offense has been absolutely icing on the cake," Maddon said. "But this guy, he really is a field general when he's out there."
Ross and starting pitcher Jason Hammel worked well together as Hammel improved to 5-0 with a 1.77 ERA.
"Overall, I've just been competing," Hammel said. "Better strikes in the zone, I guess. Obviously having the curveball now -- last year I was very sporadic with the curveball. I was a sinker-slider guy. If you can eliminate extra pitchers for a pitcher, it's an easier at-bat. Throwing the curveball for strikes, mix in a changeup here or there just to put it in the back of their head, then go with my bread and butter."
Hammel was asked how the Cubs would celebrate when Ross hits his 100th homer.
"Party favors, fireworks," he said. "It's going to be one heck of a celebration, though."
As Ross stood at his locker surrounded by reporters, his teammates gave him the good-natured business.
"Listen, if I don't get 100, it's not like I've had a terrible career," he said. "I am who I am. These guys are rooting for me to get 100 since I told them last year it's something I'd like to get, a nice even number, 100. It ain't like I'm going to go home and sulk. How about I'll hit 99 and we'll a World Series? That would make me just as happy as 100, that's for sure."
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