|What Cody Ross can bring to the Red Sox||02.21.12 at 10:38 am ET|
FORT MYERS — Of all the new faces on the Red Sox this spring, there’s probably no one who can relate more with what happened to the Red Sox last September than Cody Ross.
While the Red Sox were slumping in September, Ross was on a Giants team that was at least expected to make it back to the playoffs to defend their 2010 World Series title. They faded and missed the playoffs completely.
“To be quite honest, I really didn’t realize it all that much because we were going through so [many] struggles ourselves,” Ross said Tuesday morning in his new digs in the Red Sox clubhouse. “To have a team win the World Series and come back and not even make the playoffs, that’s terrible. So, I was trying to focus on that. I really didn’t know what was going on until after the offseason and then I was like, ‘Wow, it was quite a slide.’
“Them and the Braves had similar slides going down the stretch. It definitely didn’t affect my decision, thinking I don’t know if I want to play for that team. I want to be on a team where I knew everybody in here wants to go to that next level and go to the playoffs.”
Looking to fill the void in right field after J.D. Drew left and while Ryan Kalish continues to heal from neck surgery, the Red Sox signed 31-year-old right-handed bat on Jan. 23 to a one-year, $3 million deal. He’ll battle with Ryan Sweeney and Kalish for playing time in right.
“I knew with the changes they’ve made they’re trying to get a different feel and a different look,” Ross said. “I felt like I’d be a perfect fit coming in, maybe bring a little different energy or whatever you have. It definitely played a role.”
Sweeney thinks his experience playing right field at AT&T Park in San Francisco last year will come in handy.
“Coming from San Francisco, that’s probably one of the most challenging right fields in all of baseball,” he said. “Here it’s tough as well. But it’s just something you have to get used to. I’ll be out there early every day, getting used to the dimensions and the wall. Just something you get used to.”
Ross had the reputation as a versatile outfielder when he was claimed in late Aug. 2010 off waivers to merely block a similar attempt by the Padres, who at the time were leading the NL West.
He appeared in 33 regular season games for the Giants, batting .288 with three home runs, who won the National League West Division title, overtaking the Padres in the process.
But then his legend really grew.
In the National League Division Series against the Braves, Ross started all four games in right field, hit a home run to tie the deciding fourth game, and batted in the winning runs in two of the Giants’ three victories as they advanced to play the Phillies in the NLCS.
Ross stunned the baseball world by connecting for a pair of home runs off of Roy Halladay in Game 1 and hit a solo home run against Roy Oswalt in Game 2. He would eventually be awarded the NLCS MVP, batting .350 with three home runs, three doubles while driving in five runs. Three of his five postseason home runs broke up no-hitters in that postseason. The Giants would win their first World Series since 1954 as Ross clubbed a homer off Rangers’ hurler Colby Lewis in Game 3 of the five-game series.
What was the key?
“I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit of that last year,” said Ross, who slipped to .240 with 11 homers and 52 RBIs in 121 games with the Giants. “After the first week went by, you realize you’re not going to do that every single time you come to the plate. That quickly got out of my head and you just have to go back and work back and figure out what you did in the past to be successful. I definitely don’t expect that out of myself. I do feel like I can contribute on a daily basis. I do feel like if I can get to the playoffs, it’s a different feeling. You have to have a different sort of mindset. Some guys perform and some guys don’t in it and I feel like I can bring that to these guys.”
In San Francisco, he earned the nickname “Ross the Boss” for his clutch ability, an ability he hopes to bring to Boston, as the leading candidate for the right field job with the Red Sox.
“I just had a different mindset,” he said. “You go through the day-to-day routine of playing baseball, it’s a grind. You play every day. But once you get to the playoffs, it’s like, ‘Wow, this is what we played every single day for, and this is why we’re here and this is why we play the game.’ You sort of have that mentality and you go and you play. You either do it or you don’t. Fortunate for me and for us, we did. There’s a lot of guys in here with playoff experience and they understand what it takes to get there and that helps on teams. You realize from Day 1, you need to win this game because it can matter in Game 162 when you’re going down the stretch. That’s a good thing to have on the team.”
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