Improved hitting approach helping Ross

Improved hitting approach helping Ross

CINCINNATI -- It's early, but David Ross is seeing results after tweaking his swing this offseason. And the veteran catcher is closing in on a milestone that he'd like to complete before his final year in the big leagues ends.

Ross hit his 97th career home run Thursday night and caught Jake Arrieta's no-hitter in a 16-0 win over the Reds. The Cubs players are encouraging Ross in his quest to hit 100 dingers.

"I was rounding second, and I saw half the dugout with three fingers up, and I had a huge smile," Ross said before driving in two runs in Friday's 8-1 win over the Reds. "They're counting down for me. To reach 100 would be nice."

A friend who throws batting practice to Ross in the offseason helped with the adjustments.

"I was kind of lost last year -- I've been lost for a couple years since my concussion, trying to get back to where I was," Ross said. "I think it was more mechanical to how I was attacking the ball."

Manager Joe Maddon also has helped Ross develop a better two-strike approach, getting him to shorten his swing. This may be his 15th season, but Ross is still learning.

So, with the hot start and the no-hitter, is Ross re-thinking his decision to retire? He did talk to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer about that Thursday night.

"They sent me some real nice messages," Ross said. "I said, 'Just so they know, I will take that qualifying offer if they put it on the table.' As long as they know that, we're all good."

And their response?

"I got a couple 'Laugh out louds,'" Ross said. "They know how crazy that is."

• A Cubs fan ran onto the field at Great American Ball Park at the end of Arrieta's no-hitter to join in the celebration and was promptly removed by security.

"I wasn't thinking anything dangerous or anything like that," Ross said. "You could tell by the look on this guy's face that he was excited and happy for us. Nothing bad entered my mind, except 'Let's get this idiot out of here so I can celebrate with my teammates.'"

Jason Heyward told Arrieta that the fan came from right field.

"As Heyward was running in, the kid passed him," Arrieta said. "I thought that was kind of funny."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.