How Cubs' David Ross impacted Jason Heyward, and vice versa




 

How David Ross impacted Jason Heyward, and vice versa originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The question put a smile on Jason Heyward's face.

How would you describe David Ross' impact on your career?

Heyward leaned back in his seat inside the Cubs' interview room, that smile forming into a grin as he pondered his answer.

Ross and Heyward's relationship goes back over a decade, to their three seasons as teammates with the Braves (2010-12). They reunited with the Cubs (2016) before Ross returned as the team's manager in 2020.

"Rossy, he gave me the constructive criticism, introduction to the big leagues," Heyward said.

Heyward had a lot of minor-league pedigree as Baseball America's No. 1 overall prospect entering 2010.

But once he got to the Show, Ross was among the veterans there to show him the ropes.

"He definitely praised me when I was doing things well and being where I needed to be," said Heyward, who was locker mates with Ross in Atlanta.

"But he also let me know like, 'Hey, you see your flip flops right here, rook? This is my locker. I'm going to need you to keep your sh-- on this side, OK?'"

Heyward again lit up with a smile telling the flip flops anecdote, which drew laughter from the assembled media in front of him.

"[Ross let me know]," Heyward added, "'This is how this goes. You come in the clubhouse. You sit at your locker, you observe, see what's going on. You can laugh and all that, but just learn something today.

"'Be a good teammate. Learn how to play the game. Make sure you know the signs, make sure you know little details that are going to help us win on a daily basis.'"

Heyward met the media Thursday for the first time since Cubs president Jed Hoyer announced in August the team would part ways with the veteran outfielder after this season.

Over the last few days, those around the Cubs have spoken so highly of Heyward's impact on them personally, the clubhouse, the organization and city of Chicago.

As Ross was to Heyward, Heyward has been that veteran voice and leader for so many Cubs, including Nico Hoerner.

RELATED: Jason Heyward's profound impact on Hoerner, Cubs

And as much as Ross impacted Heyward's career, it has gone both ways, whether you're talking Heyward upgrading Ross' hotels to suites on road trips in 2016 to helping him in his managerial career.

"It just feels like family to me at this point," Ross said. "I've seen him grow. He's made me better. He's helped me as a player, as a manager."

"Jason Heyward is always somebody you want to surround yourself with," Ross added. "He makes you better, he makes you feel good about yourself. He's going to tell you the truth.

"He's impacted me and my family and my kids, helped me understand when I'm on the right track in messaging and when I'm not. All those little things that mean so much to me."

The Cubs honored Heyward Saturday, their second-to-last home game this season, with a video tribute in the fourth inning.

Heyward stood on the field taking in a standing ovation, pulling his 2016 championship ring out of his pocket and showing it to the crowd of 31,256.

As he walked back to the dugout, Ross was one of the first people to greet him with a hug.

"Rossy has a knack for being able to be a funny guy, a funny person, give you tough love," Heyward said. "But he demands and expects people to respect the game of baseball.

"And that's what I love about him. He respects the game, as far as players and the kind of time they put in. He wants to make sure that you respect those who have come before us, that have done a lot of special things. And he loves to win.

"I think that's just something when you have, again, the right people in the room who love to win, they understand the sacrifices, they understand the debt. And that's what he's about."

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