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December 10, 2019

David Ross

San Diego, California

DAVID ROSS: Hey, hey, hey. How is everybody doing?

Q. Good to see you.
DAVID ROSS: I wish I could say the same. I miss you guys. You know that.

Q. What are your thoughts about Kris' name being out there and the idea that some of these iconic players that you won a World Series with, are in a tenuous off-season situation?
DAVID ROSS: It makes the job real, but when you get to bear down and look at it, you try to look at the big picture. Obviously you want more guys like Kris Bryant on your team, and that relationship I have already with Kris.

But I know Theo and Jed and these guys got a job to do, and they look at every option of how to make this team the best team they possibly can for this year and long term. If I know anything about baseball, the rumors aren't always as true as they may seem. I see that even more now that I'm behind the curtain, so to speak.

Q. You've been close, even though they have declined from the championship the last few years. Based on your conversations so far and the planning, how much of this roster do you expect to have when you get to camp?
DAVID ROSS: Yeah, I think that's more of a question for those guys. Right now just what I've been able to kind of dive into, there are so many other aspects to building the team and what the team looks like really is in Jed and Theo's court.

I've honestly have been busy creating my staff. That's a tedious process. Diving in with front office, R&D, I mean, everywhere from, you know, the business side and talking to them, Ricketts, there is a lot more areas that I get to touch than I thought. The hitting plan, how the Minor League system will work and the player development group, and what I expect from guys. There are a lot of areas that I have been able to touch, and building the team really hasn't been something I've dove a whole lot into.

Q. Do you think with the transition that's going on here you will have the luxury of a softer landing, of a transition year, or is there going to be pressure from the beginning?
DAVID ROSS: What do you mean softer landing?

Q. Is there going to be pressure to win right away? Obviously that's going to be the goal, but realistically fans might be bracing for a "bridge" season or a step back.
DAVID ROSS: I hope not. My goal is to win. The guys that -- as the roster stands right now, this is a group that is expected to win. I think we've got a chance to win the Division and the World Series. There is a lot of talent in this group, and my expectations will never falter from that.

I would not not expect to win the World Series, that's for sure.

Q. Theo mentioned Andy Green hiring.
DAVID ROSS: Andy, I got a ton of respect for Andy and what he's done. I had a lot of input on my coaching staff and a lot of back and forth. Interviewed Andy at breakfast; had a ton of interviews through the day; we went to dinner; constant communication.

He has been probably my most important hire so far, for me, and a guy that already I've built a lot of trust and respect for. Sends me stuff daily on text messages. Really prepares me for some of the stuff ahead. Andy Green, I couldn't say I'm more over the moon for him than I have been for any of my coaches so far with the interaction I've got to have.

Q. How happy are you with the mixture and the continuity on the coaching staff and the new voices?
DAVID ROSS: Obviously when you are putting together a staff, I have never had to hire and fire anybody, and coming into this job you have some different jobs that I've had to do and some stamps that I wanted to put on this team.

Again, that process is very exhausting and tedious, and finding exactly the right mix for you and what's best for the team. My lack of experience comes into play when you're talking to these guys. I've got a lot of experience on my staff, a lot of experience with new managers, and the guys that I already know I have great relationships with.

So I'm extremely happy with the staff and looking forward to getting started as soon as we can.

Q. How much did the last couple of years prepare you with the coaching staff and the R&D department, those guys that are going to be more involved? It seems more data driven than ever.
DAVID ROSS: That's the fun part. I don't know if it's more data driven. I think that's part of baseball now, and making sure we're up with the times and making sure we have all the information. You will see a good mix from us of the analytics side and just getting out there and competing with one another, playing clean, old-school baseball, as well.

But, yeah, I think the important part for me and the staff was surrounding myself with good people, good energy, hard workers, smart guys, and, you know, delegating a lot of this work that comes across my desk, or just may -- we may be a part of or have to do on a daily basis, and guys that have experience with that.

I want as much as experience as I possibly can because I'm going to need help in a lot of areas.

Q. David, you have tremendous support with new catching people and yourself in there now; first base coach is a catching guy; you're a quality control coach; you're a catching guy. How much does this sway toward the future we know, but also Wilson Contreras and helping him be the best he can be?
DAVID ROSS: Believe it or not, Bruce, it's funny. You look up and the guys I'm drawn to, because of my catching background, I think it has less to do with Wilson and more to do with what I'm comfortable with and the language that I speak. Napoli was such a big hire for me because he checks a lot of boxes. He was a catcher, he converted to an infielder, one of the best base runners I have been around, and he was a big hitter in a big market protecting a superstar like David Ortiz.

He does a lot for our group and touching a lot of areas, so as much as it seems pitching and catching heavy, Napoli is going to be that guy that's kinda going to push more to what he's comfortable with. But I see him gravitating toward the hitters, talking about game time with the hitters, Sledge, and getting in that mix, too.

Q. Where do you think Wilson can go?
DAVID ROSS: Oh, man, Craig Driver is a guy that's going to take the reins on that, and I think Wilson is one of the -- if we clean up an area or two, if not already, he's one of the best catchers in the game.

I love Wilson in the mix, what he brings to the leadership side. Obviously his bat is elite for a catcher. I can see him -- you know, he's already been an all-star and he's won a World Series, so if he will stay on par with that, I will be just fine.

Q. Have you talked to a lot of the guys? I'm sure you got texts and stuff. How different is it going to be from being their friend to their boss?
DAVID ROSS: Yeah, I've talked to some of the guys that I have regular communication with. I was at Schwarber's wedding I saw a lot of the guys there. Start to reach out in the new year, let me get a plan, continue to get all of the stuff we're working towards. I didn't want to call and small talk 'em. I wanted to call and hit 'em with, you know, a little bit of information and what I expect, and get a little feedback from them as well, how the off-season is going.

I haven't reached out to everybody yet, but the guys I would normally talk to have reached out, asking me about dress code and stuff. It's crazy the questions they ask. It's funny. What is the dress code going to be? I haven't even thought about that. We'll get to that?

Q. When you were at the wedding are they treating you differently?
DAVID ROSS: A lot of questions, a lot of questions. Yeah, it's funny. No playing time stuff. It's the same stuff when I was kind of the special assistant coming in. Just hearing their side of things, you know, what to expect. I really want to keep it very casual until we get to Spring Training and I can give them my true voice.

I've got a lot of things I'm jotting down and want to speak real truths to some of the guys that I know and respect and have friendships with. We're going to have some real conversations and just hit 'em with where I'm coming from and what I expect and what I know about them to be true already before this thing started.

To your question, as well, there will be a change. There will be obviously some boundaries, and I also don't want to change who I am as a person. That's why I got this job and that's why those guys respected me at the time.

There is going to be a true balance for that, and that's going to come from me.

Q. So you can't go out partying with them?
DAVID ROSS: I never was a big partier. When you're the manager you can go out to the party. You're usually the first one to leave. You know, it's like, I can't be the guy that stays late.

Q. You got Napoli for that.
DAVID ROSS: Right, well, Nap is always a good time. He's a fun guy. He will be in with these guys in the mix. It's really fun. I've had those guys and those coaches that used to be on the staff as well. Eric Hinske was a huge piece. I see Napoli being one of those guys that these players can trust, communicate with, rely on, and kind of -- he hasn't been long off the field, so that's a positive for us.

Q. I think you addressed rumors at the beginning. Did you talk to any of the players involved in rumors at all?
DAVID ROSS: I haven't. I haven't reached out to any of them. Like I said, I was at Kyle's wedding last week and just a lot of small talk and some funny stuff that we joke around about. Nothing real serious. I'm going to reach out to everybody first of the year. I'm getting my bearings, my feet under me with all the stuff that I'm having to organize and departments I'm going to talk to and letting guys know where I stand and what is expected from them and from me.

I will reach out to those guys. I'm giving them their off-season and make sure I get some information to take to them of what I expect and what I'm looking for, too, and hear about, get feedback from them as well.

Q. So it's more important for you. You're not the type that needs to address that stuff with the players. You're going to let the... (No microphone.)
DAVID ROSS: Yeah. They're the ones building the team right now. I keep my ear to the ground and listen, and if they ask my opinion on anything I definitely give it. But they keep me abreast of what I need to be kept abreast of. I do plan on maybe going out when I do talk to these guys, taking visits to see some players, hangout for a day, play golf, go fishing, something like that. Nothing dramatic.

I want to make sure I've got a clear message when I do talk to them. As a player, you know, I don't really start locking in until about this time or January. Give the guys the holiday and I will reach out when it's important. I don't think there is any life-changing phone call I'm going to make to any of the players.

Q. David, will you have any think tanks when it comes to base running and decision making? We know on the field you're going to do that in Spring Training and physically do it, but having the right mindset of where to throw the baseball, when to go for an extra base or not, things that are normally taught in the Minor Leagues but we see at the Major Leagues level?
DAVID ROSS: Yeah, for sure fundamentals is going to be key for me, and we are developing drills and what our messaging is going to be. That's the stuff that I'm heavy into right now. Andy Green will run Spring Training from an organizational standpoint, and me and him have had multiple conversations about what I want it to look like, how to set up guys and give them game situations, how to get some of these fundamentals locked in early on.

Some of the spring trainings that I've been a part of from other managers that were run really clean and how the emphasis on the fundamentals early on without being exhausting have helped. Some of those things we're trying to tackle right now and what it looks like from an organizational standpoint. Yes, I'm having a lot of those already.

Q. Do you think it will be weird, three-batter minimum, or maybe not so much because you never managed the other way?
DAVID ROSS: Good point, but it's already come up in a lot of conversations. It's definitely on my brain and guys that you bring in and how to bring in maybe a guy that is a true strikeout guy that might not have command, and when that comes in. Even developing the roster and what that looks like and knowing that this guy has got to face -- there is some strategy involved in that and how to manage that in certain situations.

So I think you will see definitely see a change. It's definitely going to affect the game in a way. It's going to affect me because I was already kind of managing when you're on the bench, so it's just going to be a different process of thinking about how to use guys.

Q. How about constructing a lineup, lefty, righty...
DAVID ROSS: Yeah, that definitely for that reason. I mean, that plays a part in that for sure. You're going to try to exploit those areas, and it gives an advantage to the other team if they have a dominant lefty or righty. So staggering the lineup definitely makes sense.

Q. You mentioned been a part of Joe Maddon's spring trainings. Do you think it will be a shock for the players?
DAVID ROSS: I hope so. I hope it's a shock for the players. I'm kind of relying on that. I want to be different. As much as Joe brought to the table and all that I respect that he's done, I will keep a lot of the music on. I like the vibe that he created. I think I will mix up some things early on. There will be a little bit more structure. I want some guys working together, not guys on their own plan. I want to do some things together.

I want to recreate that bond that goes on with this group. I want guys like Javi Baez influencing our Minor League system and those guys and how to take ground balls. All the former players talk about the players that affected them and how they affected them and what they taught them in a negative or positive way.

We have a good group of guys that have a lot of experience about winning. I want them infecting the whole organization. That's something that's on my list of things to do. Joe, you know, Joe changed the culture around here and there are a lot of great things I'm going to take from that and keep around here.

Q. When you talk about guys being more together, how challenging is it to make sure it's not artificial, that it becomes cohesive and natural, it's not just, hey, you gotta workout together?
DAVID ROSS: No, I'm a genuine guy, and it's really easy in this game, especially players. They see through the people that are fake or BS. I don't think that will be a problem for me.

Q. What's it like walking around seeing Aaron Boone and other managers?
DAVID ROSS: I don't know who has been walking around. I've been stuck in a room up there. I literally just saw the light of day today for this last meeting. Yeah, it's good. I know Aaron. I talked to him. I relied on him and Alex Cora, Dave Roberts, guys in the interview process. Talked to them, got a lot of great text messages. Buddy Black just gave me his number, and the manager's circle is tight. As much as I know they want to kick my butt, I will still take a lot of advice from those guys. I've asked Booney and Alex what was it like traveling over to London.

There is definitely a lot of communication with those guys and there is a lot of respect for those guys.

Q. You play both those guys, Boone and Cora.
DAVID ROSS: Yeah. Me and Alex go back to my rookie year and playing together in Boston and in LA, and David Roberts is one of my huge mentors from a family aspect and a player aspect. Booney was the first guy I was on TV with, and he just went through this transition not too long ago.

So I've relied on those guys a lot. I know they're going to want to win and kick my butt on the other side of it, as well as I want to beat them, but there is a respect there that is mutual.

Q. There was a perception that after you left the team there has been a leadership issue in the clubhouse. Although there's great players who play the game right and work together, this seems to be missing. They brought you in as a manager, but can you identify and help other guys fill that role on the team? Will that be important?
DAVID ROSS: It is. It is important. And I think part of who I am and just around on a daily basis hopefully helps with that and the relationships I have with some of these guys, but I've identified and talked to a few guys about what I expect from them, and the accountability thing is a real thing.

Just some things that I want to get back to that are important to me. Things that I've seen a little bit -- it's hard to comment on what was going on inside the clubhouse because I wasn't there every day. I can't stand people that want to act like they're in the mix when they're not every day. The daily grind is a real thing, and that interaction.

I have had a bird's-eye view of where maybe some things were lacking, but until you get in and I can put my stamp on things of what I truly believe, we will go from there.

Q. You talk about Javi working down with the kids just so they know --
DAVID ROSS: I don't know about working with him -- I think it's more of guys in camp and doing drills together. We always try to separate some of the starters and maybe the guys that may be going back to Triple A. Let's bring those guys together.

I've been a part of winning a lot, and you need more than 25, 26 guys. You're going to need 30, 40 guys, guys that come from the Minor Leagues. I need Jon Lester to give advice to the guys that may be up and coming. That's the way I see things happening, and that's the way I was with my veterans who taught me a lot. I was watching Cole Hamels' bullpen, and him missing two pitches down and away and the third one he missed he dropped a word I can't say on TV. That affects the group in a positive way.

He is one of the best left handers of our generation, and he is in day two, his second bullpen of spring training, and he is precise in what his work is. How that affects the work is for me extremely valuable. Those are the things I want. Create work ethic. Create routine. What does Jon Lester done? What is his routine? How does he affect these guys?

What is Anthony Rizzo's ground ball routine? He's got a lot of hardware on defense. Let's learn from that and why he does certain things. That can affect the group in a positive way.

Q. Took Darvish time to get healthy. How does that affect things going on out there?
DAVID ROSS: I think a lot of things are the same. The same pitching coach, same catcher. I think too just the environment and the city. My first year, Yu's son and my son hit it off so we went to Dave and Buster's and ate and played games all day while Yu was out working.

So I think he has a little bit of trust in me if he let us me take his kid, so we're all right there (Chuckles.) I'm super excited. The guy you saw in the second half, Yu Darvish, that's one of the best pitchers in the game. I'm excited to get to know him, create that relationship. He's a guy I don't know a ton well, or have the relationship that I have with the other guys, so I'm super excited about that aspect.

Q. Are you talking about the Dave and Busters right there...
DAVID ROSS: Yeah, yeah. That's where we took him. Yeah, it was good. I brought him home on time, so that was good.

Q. You were talking about bringing people together. How can that translate to success as a team as well from players' perspective or now you as a manager?
DAVID ROSS: I just think when you work together and communicate, you're either talking about good things or, you know, maybe they're like, Why is Rossy having us do an extra drill? You complain together. I think that creates relationships.

You start talking about whether it's off-the-field stuff or winning stuff or being a part of certain moments in the season. I think communication is how we develop those relationships. If you put your head down or your head phones on and you're staring at your phone in the locker room because your routine is done that day, you're not affecting the group.

We have a lot of great human beings. Not just great baseball players, but great dudes, and these dudes need affect each other. I know a lot of them in there and somehow smart they are, how hard they work, and what they care about, and I want that to infect everybody, be contagious.

So just talking. I believe in communicating, and the more we do that the better we're going to be.

Q. Question about 2020. You're coming in here with four or five guys within two years of free agency, so that's on their mind. Might shed some payroll. That means shedding some talent. Does it feel like more of a transition personnel-wise coming than maybe you wanted?
DAVID ROSS: It doesn't to me. That's just -- trust me, I look at this roster all day every day and start studying these guys, and it doesn't feel that way to me because I'm seeing a lot of the same names. I don't know what that picture is going to look like Opening Day. None of us do. But every day that I start looking at what I love about our team, there's a lot of things to like.

Q. You mentioned Driver earlier, and Borzello. Will you let them do their jobs as it relates to catching or will you step in sometimes?
DAVID ROSS: I got enough on my plate. I'm going to let everybody do their job. I'm completely fine. The interview process was tedious. Chris Young hasn't been mentioned. Probably one of my best interviews that I had, and super excited about what he's going to bring to the bullpen group and our pitching as a whole.

We hired these guys. I'm not going to be a micromanager. I know I'm not the smartest dude in the room. If there are questions about things, I do know pitching and catching. Now, with regard to hitting things, I know what I believe in, but I'm going to leave that to them. That's their expertise. They're good at their jobs. I know that. And hard work.

I know one thing our players can rely on is we're going to have a hard-working staff that's going to put in a lot of effort and dive into the details on every bit of information we can get to prepare them to have success. I'm going to let those guys do their job.

I just wanted to close with Nick Cafardo, congratulations to him. I talked to Ben the other day. Super happy for him and his family. What a great human being he was. Great to work with in Boston. And same with Pete Frates, his family. Talked to his mom and dad multiple times, and the stamp he has put on ALS and the funds he's raised, he's a hero in that aspect. I just wanted to get those comments in real quick.

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