David Ross has talked all year about the feel-good reasons he plans to retire after this postseason run for the Cubs, about devoting more of himself to his wife and young kids, including a toddler.
But another, more sobering factor in the decision, the Cubs catcher said Friday, is a growing awareness of the seriousness of his years of shots to the facemask and multiple concussions.
“Unless you’ve gone through something like that it’s hard to put into words,” said Ross, the backup who has played huge roles in victories – first defensively and then at the plate – in his two first-round playoff starts.
“I really was uneducated about it and didn’t really put a whole lot of stock into it until it happened to me,” he said. “And then you realize how bad that is and how important it is to make sure that gets taken care of.”
Ross, who lost more than two months to his most severe concussion with the Red Sox in 2013, also has spent a stretch each of his two seasons with the Cubs on the seven-day concussion DL.
“You get hit in the head and get that feeling and it doesn’t go away,” he said, “and you’re annoyed, and you’re just not the same person. It’s nothing you can fake. You’re not a good dad; I’m short with my kids and my wife. And you get seasick riding in a care and can’t be in public places.
“It’s miserable. It’s a nightmare.”
Ross works with a charity raising money for concussion research, through the Pittsburgh-based specialist who cared for him in 2013.
He only recently began to learn about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the potential long-term concussion-related damage to the brain spotlighted in the Will Smith movie “Concussion.”
“I can’t worry about that [now]. I’ve got to worry about the Dodgers lineup,” he said. “I’ve been so blessed and fortunate to have this career, and everything that’s happened to me has made me a better person, whether it’s good or bad. I’ll worry about that stuff when I’m done, at home.”