Jason Heyward just got a fat eight-year, $184 million contract with the Cubs. His inner circle is going to want a piece of that. But first, Heyward is reserving money for a friend who never asks Heyward for anything.
The 26-year-old is paying for a hotel suite on every road trip for 38-year-old Cubs backup catcher David Ross (who will be 39 on Opening Day). Ross, who played with the Braves from 2009-2012, served as a mentor to Heyward, who came through the Braves minor league system and played with Atlanta from 2010-2014.
"That's one of the first emotional moments I had in the offseason," Ross says, "[Heyward] texted me this nice long message about supposedly what I've done for him. That was cool to start reflecting back and people you've played with start saying nice things."
Ross's final season will be his 15th at the big league level.
The Cubs' returning young talent is also paying tribute to Ross. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant recently created an Instagram account, @GrandpaRossy_3. The team plans to document Ross's final season on social media.
"Too many times you portray players as clubhouse leaders and that's done way too loosely for me," Cubs manager Joe Maddon says. "With him, it's legitimate. He is a clubhouse leader. Despite not hitting .275 or better, he still maintains his stature in the clubhouse because of the respect people have for him for how he goes about his business. When he says something, it's pertinent and right on.
"I really don't care what he hits batting average-wise -- it makes no difference to me. Whatever he hits is gravy for me, for us."
Ross has hit 96 career home runs with seven different teams (two stints with the Red Sox). With a few good night sleeps in his hotel suites, he should be expected to surpass the 100-home run plateau.
Grandpa may be old, but he can still play ball.