"I had this earmarked for Rizz for a while now," Ross stated before the Cubs' series finale against the Cincinnati Reds. "First off-day after the All-Star break. That was normal.
"Looking at the length of the game last night and KB [Bryant] all over the place, and issues with his legs, just made some sense to me."
Bryant saw his first action of the season at shortstop during Wednesday's loss after starting the game in left field. He endured a 69-pitch ninth inning and had hamstring problems last week, so Ross decided a day off was needed.
Both players could be dealt before Friday's MLB trade deadline as both are free agents after this season. Bryant has been tied to the New York Mets, and Rizzo could be moved to the Boston Red Sox.
Teams on the verge of a trade sometimes sit the player to keep him from getting injured. Ross was asked directly whether the moves were related to the looming trade deadline.
"They are not," he said. "They are available off the bench. They'll get a nice round of applause, I'm sure, when they get in there -- if they get in there -- to pinch hit. Everyone can hate me or blame me, but we have to take care of these guys. Nobody has been traded yet; let's keep our heads about us."
Bryant was drafted by the Cubs in 2013, winning Rookie of the Year and MVP in consecutive seasons. Rizzo came over in a trade with the San Diego Padres in 2012. Both are considered iconic Cubs after helping break a 108-year championship drought back in 2016.
"I've talked to both of them," Ross said. "They know the situation; it could be their last home game and all that. Everyone is fine with what's going on."
The Cubs did made a trade on Thursday, sending right-hander Ryan Tepera across town to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for minor league left-hander Bailey Horn.
Passan: Cubs will be 'extremely busy' at MLB trade deadline
Jeff Passan says the Cubs are expected to deal away several key players ahead of the MLB trade deadline.