June 26, 2015


Many believe the Cubs should not have the luxury of starting every five games  a .180 hitting, old catcher.

But the value comes in other forms.

David Ross may have saved two careers yesterday.

Ross is Jon Lester's personal catcher. They were teammates in Boston. The Cubs front office put in their banked savings on signing Lester to a $155 million contract to be the staff ace. Well, so far, the results have been underwhelming as Lester is (4-6) is now 0-4 with a 4.43 ERA since beating Pittsburgh on May 16.

In the Dodger series finale, Lester was again bad in the opening innings. He allowed four runs, four hits and four walks, while striking out five. His frustration showed in the second inning after he walked A.J. Ellis.  Lester said he turned around with his head down and yelled something to himself, but apparently home plate umpire Andy Fletcher thought it was aimed at him. So, in a rare and unprofessional move, Fletcher started to go to the mound to confront Lester. However, quick thinking Ross blocked Fletcher from getting closer to his pitcher. In fact, Fletcher began to bump Ross out of the way, who had to raise his arms up by his sides like during a police stop. 

That gave Joe Maddon enough time to come out to interject himself between Fletcher and Ross.

"Rossie did a great job of going out there and got between him, and I was able to talk to Andy and I think it settled down after that," Maddon said.

If Fletcher had gotten to the mound and contact with Lester happened, it would have been ugly. Fletcher, as instigator, could have been fired for cause since umpires are supposed to maintain their composure, objectivity and cool since they are the policemen on the diamond. Lester has shown this season to be very moody, surly and angry on the mound. If he would have retaliated or hit Fletcher, he would have been suspended for a long time. This was the classic bar fight preamble that Ross defused very quickly.

Ross' role on the Cubs is that of back up catcher and on-field coach. Considering how volatile his battery mate can be, Ross has his hands full. Ross has to keep runners close to first because Lester has a phobia about throwing to the bases. So Ross has to fire pick offs to Rizzo to keep runners honest. Ross has to call a different game to try to throw out runners stealing second; more fastballs away to get a lane to throw. Ross has to be the buffer between a hot-headed pitcher and umpires who hate being shown up. Yesterday, Ross earned his paycheck.