ST. LOUIS — First things first, Cubs manager David Ross wanted to communicate his best wishes to White Sox manager Tony La Russa, who is away from his team indefinitely while under the care of doctors, reportedly for an unspecified heart ailment.
“Any time you see that, a Hall of Famer, been great for a really long time, you send your love and prayers and hope he’s going to be all right,” Ross said before the opener of a weekend series against the division-leading Cardinals.
But Ross also knows what a rough season it has been overall for La Russa, who has been shredded by critics — many of them Sox supporters — from almost the very start of a hugely disappointing season. Just being in Chicago, even with a different team, there has been no way not to hear the invective directed at the South Siders and, especially, the 77-year-old icon in their dugout.
“When we’re not playing the White Sox, I kind of root for our city,” Ross said. “I hope they do well. I hope he does well. He’s done well for a long, long time. …
“I think in the manager’s seat, we’re all grown men and realize how tough it is to win on a daily basis, and all the pressure and things that come along with our jobs, which we’re really blessed to have. But only we know what we go through, and former managers know what the daily process is like, and so you root for other guys to have success.”
Ross chuckled, recalling that La Russa “hated” him when he was a player because he dared to lay down a few unexpected bunts against La Russa’s Cardinals. The elder skipper still gives the younger one grief about that — good-natured, of course — when they see each other.
This and that
Catcher Willson Contreras was out of the lineup again, as he has been since leaving Tuesday’s game in Toronto with nagging soreness in his left ankle. The All-Star could be back at it Saturday.
o Righthander Keegan Thompson, on the 15-day injured list since Aug. 20 with lower-back tightness, threw a bullpen session Friday that seemed to go well.
o Lefty Wade Miley, who made a second rehab start Wednesday at Single-A South Bend, is expected to ramp things up with a bullpen session at Busch Stadium. A shoulder strain sent Miley to the IL on June 11.
o Infielder Patrick Wisdom, out all week after spraining his left ring finger, hit off a tee Friday and is “healing nicely,” according to Ross.
o The Cubs and Cardinals, along with the umpires, wore yellow ribbons on their jerseys and yellow wristbands in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Day across the major leagues.
o Retired umpire Joe West threw out a ceremonial first pitch before a tickled Busch crowd. Not many umps have elicited bigger or better reactions than West, 69, who was known for loving to be part of the show. This time, he fired from just in front of the mound and skipped the ball in the dirt in front of home plate. He still wanted the strike call, no doubt, but he wasn’t going to get it.