David Ross’ honeymoon was scheduled to end Thursday with decisions about how long to let Yu Darvish pitch, how to combat the Brewers’ bullpenning and how to limit the damage of Christian Yelich.

And that’s just a sampling of what his daily script was supposed to be like in his first game as Cubs manager against the Brewers at Miller Park.


But the anticipation surrounding the Cubs opener — Ross’ task of changing the culture and replacing Joe Maddon, the team’s attempt to remain competitive while building for the future and Darvish looking to sustain his 2019 second-half dominance — quickly vanished after the coronavirus pandemic caused Major League Baseball to delay the start of the season.

The hype of opening day, as usual, overshadows the reality that the first game is just one of 162.

Thursday’s postponed season opener, however, likely would have presented a sampling of Ross’ tendencies with spring training no longer serving as a laboratory for his options.

To Ross’ credit, the return to sharpness and a renewed focus he preached after being hired in late October was evident in spring training as the Cubs executed a few rundowns with precision.

Before spring training was halted, Ross narrowed his opening-day starter options to Darvish and Kyle Hendricks, but Darvish was lined up to pitch Thursday after making his last spring appearance March 11.

Darvish was 1-0 with an 0.90 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 10 innings against the Brewers last season, and Ross cited Darvish’s strong second half (2.76 ERA, 118 strikeouts, seven walks in 81? innings) as reasons to make him a candidate.

Hendricks is 8-6 with a 3.08 ERA in 21 career starts against the Brewers, including a 4-2 record and 2.97 ERA in 11 career games at Miller Park.

With Friday serving as a day off, the Cubs might have opted to have fourth starter Jose Quintana piggyback Darvish in the opener as they did in the second game of the 2019 season against the Rangers.


That would have been a distinct possibility had Kyle Ryan started the season as the lone left-handed reliever while Brad Wieck recovered from surgery.

Ross hinted during spring training he was in favor of a set lineup rather than lean heavily on batting orders presenting the most favorable matchups against a starting pitcher.

But toward the end of spring training, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. were in an intriguing battle for the center-field position, and Nico Hoerner presented a pleasant problem with impressive plate discipline and emerging as the second-best defensive shortstop behind Javier Baez.

Happ might have earned the start against Brandon Woodruff or Freddy Peralta, but the presence of hard-throwing Josh Hader might have changed the landscape in the later innings — especially if the Cubs trailed.

The Cubs also were going to face a revamped Brewers roster that took seven of 10 games from them at Miller Park last season but lost Yasmani Grandal (White Sox), Mike Moustakas (Reds), Eric Thames (Nationals) and Travis Shaw (Blue Jays) from a lineup that won 13 of 15 games after Yelich was lost to a fractured kneecap Sept. 10.

But the Brewers have proved in each of the last two seasons that they can survive without sole contributions from Yelich. The additions of Avisail Garcia and Justin Smoak add power to both sides of the plate.


Until the coronavirus shutdown, Friday’s projected day off could have provided Cubs fans and media with a forum to analyze Ross’ moves. But the hope of eventually starting the season likely won’t allow enough time for endless analysis — just a greater sense of urgency for Ross, the Cubs and the 29 other teams to succeed quickly.