Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross is keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com this season. Here he describes how the start of the season is not going as planned, why playing all three outfield positions is tough and what the team needs to do to start winning again (as told to Louise K. Cornetta).
It’s been an interesting start. Obviously, we haven’t gotten off to the hot start that we all hoped for and wanted. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to get hot at some point and get this thing turned around and on the right track.
Let’s begin with right before the season started we lost Andrew Bailey to his thumb injury. Ace [Alfredo Aceves] became our closer. He’s a bulldog. He is intense. He has that closer mentality. You can’t just have a regular guy come in and get the last three outs of the game. The only care in the world he has is getting those last three outs. Ace has that and it’s what he tries to do for us every night. He has that crazy ninth-inning mentality. I feel he’s right for that spot.
As mentioned, we didn’t have the start we wanted but then we came home and were able to take three out of four from the Rays. We had three really good games against them. Then we dropped the final game. Then we ended up letting that linger on when we played the Rangers who swept us followed by the two games against the Yankees. We know we have to figure out a way to turn this thing around and get back on the right track.
The Marathon Monday game was an early one. I’ve played a 10 a.m. game before in the minor leagues when it doesn’t count. The 11 a.m. game was a tough one. After a quick night of sleep, you wake up and it’s almost like a show and go. The game ended with me at the plate on that called third strike. Every time I get out I’m angry. But just the way it went down being in the bottom of the ninth with a chance to win the game was tough. Looking back, the calls were close, no question, but I felt like they were balls. But, hey, it happens. Next time he’s behind the plate again, I’ll have to swing at them. It was tough, but I’m over it.
As I said, it’s been an interesting start to this season. So when the [Kevin] Youkilis-Bobby [Valentine] incident happened, what you do when you see something like this happen is you support the player. You encourage him. Everyone was talking about how he was struggling at the plate and off to a slow start. You just keep patting him on the butt and telling him he’s all right and to keep grinding. Youk has been doing it a long time. He knew he was going to eventually get out of it. With him and Bobby, it was a miscommunication. After it was settled, nobody talked about it again.
What do we need to do now to play better? Well, we need to play better as a team. When you’re in a funk like this, you’re initial thought is you want to help your team get out of this. You start putting a little too much pressure on yourself and then the next guy starts putting a little too much pressure on himself. Everyone starts trying to do it themselves and that’s not how you win in this game. You have to do it together. Create big innings and scoring opportunities by getting a base hit, drawing a walk and then another guy coming up and gets a base hit and then someone hits a home run. We all have to do this collectively.
Friday was Fenway’s 100th anniversary.
What stood out for me were all the big names, stars and heroes that I Iooked up to growing up all out on this one field. When they were showing the players on the video board with their names and the years that they were here and going through each generation, I was thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe he played at this time and this one played at this time and now I’m playing here at this time.” There were quite a few in particular that I was especially excited to see and meet: [Carl] Yastrzemski, obviously, [Carlton] Fisk, couple of the guys like that who I had never met. I got to play against Pedro [Martinez] and [Kevin] Millar. Seeing guys that had been around but aren’t playing anymore was just a really really neat feeling.
I’m experiencing my first Yankees-Red Sox series. It does feel different from other series. But once they say play ball, it’s still the same game. We still have to go out and do our job and try to score and win no matter who the opponent is. It could be an A-Ball team, a triple-A team or the New York Yankees. We still want to try to win every single game and play the best that we can. But the history behind these two teams is something that I’ve always heard about and looked forward to watching on TV and now here I am playing in it.
I’ll tell you what, playing at Fenway South during Spring Training absolutely helped me playing here at Fenway. It was great to be able play there and then get here and not feel totally like I’m coming in blind. It’s still a little different and the dimensions are a little different and the ball caroms off the wall a little bit different and the games count. In case you were wondering, I had already been inside the Monster in 2009 when I was here playing against the Red Sox with the Marlins during interleague and signed my name.
I’m going to be honest with you, it’s been tough playing all three outfield positions. Of course, we didn’t know Jacoby [Ellsbury] was going to get hurt and with Carl [Crawford] working to get back soon, I’ve been playing all three. It’s been tougher than I thought it would. Like I said, the ball comes off the wall differently than how I was doing it in spring training. The wind is different here than it was in Florida. In Florida, the wind was blowing in every single day. Here it’s blowing out. The grass is different. Everything is different. But it’s nice to be able to play there and feel some of the similarities and then come here and transition from that. I’ve made a couple of misplays out in right and one in left. It’s been tough time for me out there so far. I continue to go out there and work on things every single day to get better because I take a lot of pride in my defense.
I’m used to it, though. Throughout my whole career, I’ve played all three outfield positions. With that being said, I had always spent a significant amount of time in one and then a significant amount of time in the other. It wasn’t like I was jumping back and forth, which can get tough. But, I’ve always said I don’t care where I play. I’ll play shortstop or third base as long as I get to play, get out there and try to help my team win. Same goes for where I bat in the lineup. I batted cleanup for a game last week. It doesn’t matter to me. The middle of the lineup is something that a pitcher sees and bears down a little bit more and you see a little bit different pitching. But with our lineup, it’s pretty deep. So no matter if you’re hitting leadoff or ninth, we’ve got a chance to do damage.
I’ve gotten a chance to start exploring Boston some.
I’m having a blast. I’m getting recognized a little bit here and there. The fans are great. For the most part, they’ll come up and say, “Welcome to Boston, “ “Glad to have you here.” Stuff like that. They leave guys alone it seems like and respect us, just great fans.
I may be seen here as a player that the media feels they can go to. I don’t mind it. I don’t mind sharing my opinion, but on a daily basis it can be tiring at times. I know it’s part of our job and what we have to do. I just do the best that I can. A place I used to be active talking to the fans was on Twitter but I’ve slowed down. There’s just a lot of negativity on there. Baseball is crazy and you’re playing every single day. You’re not going to go 4-for-4 every game. You’re going to have a game where you strike out or make an error. I got tired of reading all the negativity with people talking about how badly we stink. So I slowed down and probably won’t get on there much anymore. Which is kind of sad because I had fun with it. I do have some fan club tweeters with @CodysSocks and @CodyRossNation and they can keep my fans up to date.
I am obviously rooting for the Bruins. They had a tough couple of losses but they are playing a tough team in the Capitals. I will say I am loving all the physicality in the NHL playoffs this year. I absolutely love it. It feels like playoff hockey. But, man, this Bruins team is physical and gets after it. They’re not afraid and I love watching them. I went to the first game of the playoffs that they won in overtime 1-0. I want to get out there again because my son loves it. Would be nice to get back out there with them hopefully playing for the Stanley Cup.
We’ll be heading back out on the road next week. My favorite road ballpark is Philadelphia. As crazy as this sounds, I like going to Philly. The fans there are just like the fans here. They’re really intelligent. Their place is sold out every night. They support their team and are really diehard fans. It’s a sports city just like here. It’s a great ballpark for hitters and a lot of fun to go to. Minnesota is one of our stops on this upcoming road trip. There’s a couple of parks that I haven’t been to in the AL. I haven’t been to Minnesota, Cleveland or the new Yankee Stadium. Other than that, I’ve been to all of them. I’ll probably go to the park with a teammate. They’ll have to show me the ropes. It’ll be like I’m a rookie again.