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A new day, another COVID-19-related roster move for the Chicago Cubs.
In a season that has seen plenty of highs and lows, the Cubs continue needing to worry about having enough bodies to make it through Game 162. For the fifth time in four days, the Cubs put a player on the injured list without an injury, again indicating a COVID-related issue.
Cubs manager David Ross said each day he has been hoping he does not get a phone call from the head trainer informing him of another COVID issue.
“You’re holding your breath that it is just one and we’ve got taxi guys here to cover,” Ross said Saturday. “Thank goodness he feels OK and we’re not in a playoff hunt that this is going to be something detrimental. We’re trying to get through tomorrow and try to win the two games in between and get into next year, try to learn from where we can be better and try to deal with the circumstances next year is going to present.”
The COVID situation has helped put the Cubs on the verge of roster-usage history. They tied the Seattle Mariners’ major-league record for most players used in a season with 67 when Tyler Ladendorf pinch hit in the top of the fifth inning Saturday. Of the 42 players to make their Cubs debut this year — a single-season franchise mark, passing 34 in 2013 — 14 coincided as their MLB debuts, most recently catcher Erick Castillo and Trent Giambrone this week in Pittsburgh.
The constant additions are part of the reason Ross is not ready to shift into an offseason mindset yet despite the Cubs long being out of postseason contention.
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“Each day, especially right now, is trying to deal with the uncertainty and the moving parts that are going and also preparing and getting guys that are showing up to the big leagues and getting to perform, getting them ready and getting them in a situation to succeed,” Ross said. “So my mindset hadn’t really gotten to the end of (Sunday) yet, but one thing I’ve learned about this seat is that there’s something next coming and new that we’ve got to be ready for.”
One item that potentially awaits Ross and the Cubs to tackle is his contract situation. Ross is under contract through 2022 with a team option for 2023. Ross said Saturday that he has had some preliminary talks with president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer but did not discuss his contract situation further, saying: “Honestly the last thing on my brain right now is myself. That would be a little bit selfish on my part.”
“To be honest with you, I’m focused on some health and well being of the players and coaches and all of the group that’s here and trying to set us up to win this ballgame. If I’m meant to get extended, I’ll get extended.”
As for whether the coaching staff will return in 2022, Ross stated they will go through that.
“I haven’t walked that line yet,” he said.
The Cubs also have not completed exit interviews with players as part of the typical end-of-season wrap-up. Those have been pushed back in an effort to keep the clubhouse as empty as possible amid their apparent COVID outbreak. Last year they conducted Zoom meetings and could do that again to keep everyone separate and as safe as possible.