With the Joc Pederson trade behind them, the Chicago Cubs kick off the second half of their season: ‘There’s not a lot of time for sadness in this game,’ manager David Ross says.

With the Joc Pederson trade behind them, the Chicago Cubs kick off the second half of their season: ‘There’s not a lot of time for sadness in this game,’ manager David Ross says.
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The call came Thursday morning from Jed Hoyer.

The Chicago Cubs president informed manager David Ross that outfielder Joc Pederson might be traded — though knowing how much Ross enjoyed having Pederson on the team, Hoyer told him to take it with a grain of salt.

By Thursday evening the trade was official and Pederson was sent to the Atlanta Braves for prospect Bryce Ball.

Ross talks with Hoyer regularly, so he wasn’t anxious when he received the call. He knows Hoyer wants to win and is acting in the best interest of the organization. That might mean more phone calls like Thursday’s, but Ross is focused on his job: winning games.

Ross found some optimism after Pederson’s departure.

“Look, it stinks to lose Joc,” Ross said Friday. “I mean, he was definitely a fun teammate, he played really hard, he has great energy on a daily basis. When things like that happen in baseball, it gives an opportunity for a guy like Ian Happ to step up or Rafael Ortega or Jake Marisnick, another outfielder to have a chance to be better than Joc was for us. I really believe that. There’s guys that can step up and have good seasons.

“You hate to lose Joc, but there’s too many baseball games left in the season to focus on one guy’s absence.”

Happ got the start in left field Friday and Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but Ross does not envision one player getting the bulk of Pederson’s at-bats. The reality is the Pederson trade likely is just the first the Cubs will make before the July 30 trade deadline.

Ross knows what it’s like as a player to be part of a team that trades its best players. He recalled being part of the 2014 Boston Red Sox that dealt left-handers Jon Lester and Andrew Miller, right-hander John Lackey and outfielder Jonny Gomes before the deadline. Seeing Lester, one of his good friends, get traded was tough because it also meant less playing time since Ross regularly caught Lester.

That experience served as another reminder of continuing to focus on the task at hand.

“I don’t think baseball allows you to sit back and mourn or have thoughts about, ‘Oh, woe is me,’ ” Ross said. “If you do that in baseball, you’re going to be left behind. ... What this game creates, you better just keep moving forward. Because there’s more people coming, there’s more opportunity for the next guy that’s hungry to step up and prove that they’re the next big-time baseball player in the major leagues. So there’s not a lot of time for sadness in this game.”

Ross used the All-Star break to unwind with family and reflect on a first half that saw the Cubs go 44-46 and sit tied for third in the division, marred by losing 13 of their last 15 games.

He met with players before Friday’s game to kick off the second half. He acknowledged the expectations for the team and believes positives can be taken from the core players — Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward and Kyle Hendricks — and the championship aspirations they’ve cultivated, which Ross said they can wear as a “badge of honor and pride.”

“There’s this doom and gloom over the last two weeks that I don’t know really paints the picture of our first half,” Ross said. “If (those) two weeks when we look up at the end of the season is the worst part of our season, I think we’ll be in a pretty good place.”

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