Ross making slow and steady progress

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- For the first time since suffering a pair of concussions earlier in the season, injured Red Sox catcher David Ross says he’s finally been feeling normal for the last two weeks and he’ll continue his minor league rehab assignment with the Pawtucket Red Sox for the next few days.

After two rehab games with Double-A Portland, Ross started for the PawSox on Tuesday night and went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against the Louisville Bats at McCoy Stadium. As scheduled, Ross caught five innings and was replaced by Dan Butler in the top of the sixth inning. Ross will catch five innings again during Pawtucket's noon game on Wednesday.

He’ll then have a day off and catch nine innings in consecutive games. Then concussion specialist Dr. Micky Collins will examine Ross before he’s cleared to return to the Red Sox.

“Yeah, it’s nice to be back playing in general,” Ross said. “It’s fun to be back around the guys where you can contribute a little bit. I feel good, so it’s about getting back in playing shape, get my feet under me, doing all the drills I need to do and game stuff I need.”

Defensively, Ross looked sharp on Tuesday. With knuckleballer Charlie Haeger on the mound for Pawtucket, Ross threw out Louisville speedster Billy Hamilton attempting to steal second in the top of the first inning during the PawSox’s 5-1 win over the Bats.

“Billy Hamilton is a tremendous base-stealer and he proved it last year. This year he’s got 60-something bags, so that’s what big-league catchers do," manager Gary DiSarcina said. "It wasn’t a perfect throw, but he had such good timing with his foot work, his transfer with a knuckleball glove in his hand, so quick transfer, quick foot work, one-hop bounce, it was on the money.”

Ross suffered the first concussion and needed a stay on the DL from May 12-24. He returned and played only eight games for the Red Sox before landing back on the DL on June 18.

"It’s just a long, slow process,” explained Ross. “It’s tough when you don’t have a cast on, or you didn’t have surgery, or there’s nothing and you’re just sitting on your couch. You don’t feel great but the baseball mind in you tells you to push through it, and every time you try to push through it you kind of go backwards. That was hard to come to grips with of just resting everything.”

Once he accepted the fact that he was injured, he began the healing process in order to get back and help the Red Sox win this season.

He believes he’s actually suffered four or five concussions during his career, but never was diagnosed properly.

“If this would have happened to me five years ago, I would have chalked it up to a bad year and try to go get them next year,” he said. “I would have gotten healthy during the offseason and would have never known. It was there for a while [this time], I just thought I wasn’t seeing the ball good and needed to slow things down at the plate. I knew I felt off, but just thought it was normal because in baseball you never feel 100 percent and you’re always trying to figure out how to fix what’s off.”

For the majority of his major league career, Ross has worn the hockey goalie style of mask, but Dr. Collins recently suggested he try the normal style most catchers wear.

Meanwhile, Ross has been paying close attention to the Red Sox during his absence.

“They’re not even playing their best baseball right now but they’re still winning,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting back to winning and competing at a high level. Hopefully I can help this team make a run in August and September and do something special in the offseason.”