Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross will be keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com throughout his first season in Boston. In this inaugural edition, Ross talks about what his perception of the Red Sox and their fans was prior to being on the team, how tackling the Green Monster won’t be so difficult now and why he will not root against Ryan Sweeney for playing time (as told to Louise K. Cornetta).
My time in San Francisco was amazing. Obviously, winning helps, but for the year-and-a-half I was there the experience was something you dream of as a kid. Not only the notoriety and the fans going crazy when we won the World Series in 2010, but after the parade was done I’d still have people buying me dinners or sending drinks over left and right. I’ll never forget it. I was fortunate to win the NLCS MVP, and what I remember most is, at the time, really trying to take it all in. I hear a lot of people say when they are going through it, everything goes by so fast that they forget about it. I was trying to remember every single feeling I had. It was an emotional time. Hopefully not once in a lifetime, but for a lot of people it is a once-in-a-lifetime deal.
Giants fans bring a lot of energy and electricity to the ballpark every single game. The first game I played there, I got a base hit and the place went crazy. I was startled because I had never experienced that before. I had played in Florida for all those years and the fans that came were great but they were small in number and the stadium was huge. It felt like nobody was there. There’s nothing like playing in a packed house. I love hearing the fans go crazy over a good catch or stealing second. I had never gotten to hear that before -- only on the road when the cheers weren’t for my team. Playing for a packed house for a full year was a pretty neat experience.
Perception of Boston
My perception of the Red Sox coming here was that the Red Sox brand and their name means an elite, if not the elite, organization not only in baseball but all of sports. You hear Red Sox, Yankees, Cowboys, Lakers -- when you think of that sport, those are some the teams you think of. The Red Sox are one of those teams and it’s an honor to wear the name Red Sox across my chest.
My knowledge of Red Sox fans is that they are some of the best fans in the world. I’ve gotten to play against them a few times in my career, but never for them. I remember going to Fenway and thinking, this must be what going to the playoffs is like because I’d never been before. Having a packed house with fans into every pitch must be what it is like. The place was electric. People knew when to cheer, knew when to boo, they just knew the game like I had never seen before. They are very intelligent fans.
There were a lot of reasons why I signed with the Red Sox. I wanted to be on a team that wants to win and that’s all they care about is winning championships. We’re not trying to win the AL East, we’re trying to win the World Series, and that’s a team you want to be on. You don’t want to be on a team that just wants to have a winning record. It’s not fun and I’ve played on enough of those team that were like that. Once you get the taste of a championship, it’s in your blood. As a man, you want to have that same feeling again. You want to hoist that trophy again. I thought coming to Boston would be a great opportunity for that to happen.
Because I’ve been in this game long enough, I knew that all the reports on what happened around the end of the Red Sox season could have been blown out of proportion. Things get really hyped. A lot of that type of stuff we all heard about happens in a lot of clubhouses. But because of the way the season ended, it gets blown up and it becomes a huge, major problem. It’s unfortunate but I didn’t think to myself, "Oh man, I don’t want to be a part of that." No, I know a lot of these guys in here and what they’re trying to accomplish. It’s a great group of guys and teammates. I’m looking forward to this journey with them.
As we all know, Bobby Valentine is the new Red Sox manager this year. Bobby is great. He doesn’t waste any energy. He’s full go, full speed, very outgoing personality and it rubs off on guys. It kind of brings out that side of guys that are maybe a little more quiet or back-of-the-crowd type of guys, he brings an energy out of them. I think he’s a perfect fit for this team right now.
'I get along with everybody'
What I try to bring to this team is a little different energy as well. In the clubhouse, I bring a little bit of a different personality. I feel like I’m pretty easy to talk to. I get along with everybody; even guys that maybe aren’t too friendly, I seem to figure out a way to get along with them. I adapt to people’s personalities. If they’re quiet, I’ll be quiet. If they’re funny, I’ll be funny. I think people can relate to me. On the field, I look to do something every day that will benefit the team, whether that’s make a great play, move a guy over or drive a guy in. It’s always something I’ve strived to do. I want to have something every single day that will help the team win. I think if every guy does that on a daily basis, then we’ll find ourselves in a very good spot. Whether I find myself in right field or left field or wherever, I want to come to the field prepared every single day. Think positively that you will be in there and do something good.
It has been great to play in front of this Green Monster replica here in spring training. I wasn’t worried about it, but it’s an issue when you haven’t played in front of it before but for three games. When I first signed, I was like, I am going to have to figure out that wall pretty quickly. Then I realized after the fact that they built this replica here and I thought, “What a competitive advantage.” Now I am going to feel comfortable going into Fenway, knowing how it plays. It doesn’t get much better than that. I’ve had a good spring, so I’m thinking I’ll hit about .500 this season. I’m just kidding, because I’ve had springs like this and I’ve had ones where I hit .130. When you go into the season after having a good spring, it helps with your confidence, which is good to have because the season is a grind. It’s also nice feeling good about your swing as you head into a season.
Ryan Sweeney and I may both be looking to play a lot in the outfield this season, but we still like to hang out. In the minor leagues, you are with your outfield groups so much that you become friends. With Ryan, you see that he is an amazing guy with a great personality. I love hanging around with him and off the field too. He and his wife are just great people. You can’t do anything but want to root for him because he’s on my team and he can help us. I’m sure he’d say the same thing about me. The last thing you want to do is root against somebody because then that becomes bad chemistry. We need everybody on this roster. You learn that early on in the minor leagues, though. Because as soon as you root against guys, there’s that thing called karma.
What I like to do away from the ballpark is I used to be into the outdoor stuff like hunting and fishing. When I lived in New Mexico, I’d do that with my dad. Since those days, I moved away and live in Scottsdale now. In the offseason, that’s like paradise. I play golf as much as I can. I love it, even though I’m not very good. I feel like I should be a lot better than I am. That’s probably my main hobby outside of my main priority, which is being with my family and playing with my kids. Nick Punto loves golf too. He used to live down the street from me. We hang out during the offseason. I also knew [Dustin] Pedroia, [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Kevin] Youkilis and was really good friends with Jason Repko before they all became my teammates. I know a lot of these guys here, which is probably why it’s been an easy transition for me.
Wearing 'lucky 7'
What else can I tell you about myself? Well, I grew up a Cowboys, Rangers and Stars fan because I grew up in Dallas. But since then, I still root for those teams except the Rangers, but I root for teams in the cities I’ve played for. So I root for the Florida Panthers because I know a couple of their players. I root for the Dolphins and the 49ers. As a player in a city you get to know the other players on the other sports teams there. I’m sure when I get to Boston, I’ll find some more teams to root for. Though I already do root for the Bruins. I’m a huge hockey fan and love to watch it. So those are the teams I like.
I know most everyone has a nickname. For me, I knew [Red Sox bullpen coach] Gary Tuck back in 2006 when we were with the Marlins, he was Joe Girardi’s bench coach. He gave me the name the Toy Cannon. If you don’t know what than nickname means, you will have to go ask Tuck. [Editor’s note: Toy Cannon was the nickname of former MLB player Jimmy Wynn who was around the same build as Ross and but was also capable of hitting with some power.] Smiles is also a nickname I got from Aubrey Huff when I was with the Giants. All the other ones, I don’t think I should say.
I wear number 7 now. In San Francisco, I wore number 13. Obviously, in San Francisco wearing number 13 was a great number for me in 2010, but last year it was not so lucky for me. So I had to get away from unlucky 13 by switching to lucky 7. I was not about to try to bribe CC [Carl Crawford] because I can’t really bribe him with anything since he has everything.
This season I am most looking forward to the camaraderie with the guys and enjoying this ride we’re about to go on. I’m looking forward to winning and playing in October.