Boston Red Sox: Cody Ross

Ross: 'I had this game circled'

August, 3, 2013
BOSTON -- For Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross, Friday night’s 7-6 win over the Boston Red Sox meant a little more than any other game.

“Honestly, I had this game circled on my calendar for a while,” Ross said. “I knew coming back in the later part of the year, I was excited to get back and see a lot of familiar faces and a lot of friends.”

And put up some familiar numbers.

[+] EnlargeCosy Ross, Matt Williams
AP Photo/Charles KrupaCody Ross is congratulated by third base coach Matt Williams as he rounds the bases after a solo homer in the seventh inning Friday night against his former team.
Ross went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs in his long-awaited return to Fenway Park. The outfielder played in 130 games for the Red Sox in 2012 before signing a three-year deal with the Diamondbacks in the offseason.

“Obviously it feels good to have success against your old team or any team that sort of let you go,” Ross said.
“You concentrate a little bit more. Almost feels like ... for me ... it feels like a playoff-type deal. You don’t want to give away any at-bat.”

Ross lived up to just that against his former teammate Jon Lester, lining a double to center in his first at-bat before getting RBIs with a single in the third and double in the fifth.

“He came back with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder,” Lester said. “But when he steps in that batter’s box it’s just another hitter I’ve got to get out. Obviously I didn’t do that.”

Red Sox reliever Pedro Beato wasn’t able to do that either, leaving a slider over the middle of the plate that Ross deposited just over the left-field wall for a go-ahead home run in the seventh. Not unfamiliar to Red Sox fans, the home run was promptly celebrated with one of Ross’ signature bat flips, this time with a little extra juice put into it.

“That was a weak one,” Ross joked after the game. “That was an ‘I don’t really know if that’s going to go or not,’ [flip].”

In 66 games at Fenway last season, Ross led the Red Sox with 49 RBIs and was tied with David Ortiz for the team lead in home runs with 13. His 25 doubles also tied for the team lead (Adrian Gonzalez) at home and were 16 more than he had hit in 64 away games.

“He’s got a swing that fits this ballpark,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Although the 32-year-old enjoyed the same kind of success that he had at Fenway in 2012, it took only a span of five at-bats for the crowd’s friendly atmosphere to turn on him. Stepping in for his final at-bat in the ninth, scattered boos could be heard as he walked to plate, a big difference from the ovation he received in his first at-bat.

“They were cheering for me and then giving me a hard time too so it was good,” Ross said. “I was happy with the way -- when they announced my name -- the way it went down.”

Ross had hoped to return to Red Sox

August, 2, 2013
BOSTON -- Facing free agency at the end of the 2012 season, former Boston Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross felt confident that he would return to Boston after a year that saw him as one of the team's few bright spots.

“I figured there would be a good chance of coming back,” Ross said. “Both sides expressed interest in doing it.”

However, things don’t always go according to plan.

“It happens, it’s baseball. I’m not the first person, I won’t be the last,” Ross continued.

Returning to Fenway Park on Friday night for the first time as a member of his new team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ross shed some light on a tumultuous offseason that left the 32-year-old feeling “jaded.”

“I expressed my interest in coming back,” said Ross, who signed a one-year deal with Boston last January. “I don’t know if the fact that I expressed to them first that I wanted to come back may have hurt me a little bit -- showing my hand, if you will. Things happen for a reason, I’m a firm believer in that.”

Instead of re-signing Ross, the Red Sox handed multi-year contracts to outfielder Shane Victorino and first baseman Mike Napoli (whose contract was reduced to one year following the discovery of a hip condition). Ross, who said he had a great relationship with Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington, said the deals caught him off guard.

“When you hear one thing from the top that they’re going to not sign guys to long-term deals then turn around a week later and do it, it doesn’t really ... I’m a person too, you know? I’m not just a baseball player, I have emotions and feelings. Even though some people might not think that we do, we do.”

So, 10 days after the Red Sox inked Victorino for three years, Ross signed a three-year contract of his own to play with the Diamondbacks in his home state of Arizona, something he said could not have worked out any better for him. However, the outfielder is happy to return to Boston, even if it is just for the weekend.

“Obviously I miss Boston. I miss the city, teammates. It’s nice to be back,” he said.

State of the Sox on Christmas Eve

December, 24, 2012
For those of you who spent the weekend wrapping up holiday shopping or sipping egg nog with friends and family, you missed a few interesting developments on the Red Sox front.


Are the Red Sox giving up too much for Joel Hanrahan?


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The team moved toward acquiring closer Joel Hanrahan in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, while new doubt was cast on the finalization of the Mike Napoli deal, which has been in limbo for 21 days now. If the team doesn’t end up reaching a resolution with the Napoli, one of the potential first-base fallback options was taken off the table Sunday when Nick Swisher signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the Cleveland Indians that also includes a $14 million option for a fifth season.

The waiting game on both Napoli and Hanrahan figures to drag on at least a few more days, a team source telling he didn’t anticipate a trade before Christmas.

ESPN's Jim Bowden tweeted that the Sox would send minor league pitcher Stolmy Pimentel and first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands to Pittsburgh for Hanrahan. Multiple industry sources indicated to that the Sox also could include pitcher Mark Melancon. The deal could be finalized as soon as this week.

The news on the 31-year old Napoli wasn’t as encouraging. While the Red Sox remained mum on why the first baseman/catcher was still unsigned three weeks after news first broke of his three-year, $39 million agreement, multiple sources confirmed that concerns about Napoli's hip is the primary issue holding up the deal.


Who would you like to see playing first base for the Red Sox in 2013?


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Napoli has been on the disabled list five times in his career, but never for a hip condition.

Simply adding contract language protecting the Sox in case the condition proves to be debilitating may not be enough to salvage the agreement, the sources said. Such contract language was inserted in prior deals the Sox did with outfielder J.D. Drew and pitcher John Lackey.

"I honestly don't think the outcome has been determined," said one source with direct knowledge of the negotiations when asked by on Saturday whether the deal could fall through.

What will the Red Sox do if the sides can’t come to an agreement? The team doesn’t have any great internal options to play first base and the free-agent field is starting to run dry. With Swisher off the table, the next best option would seem to be 33-year-old Adam LaRoche, although he would cost the Sox a draft pick as compensation.

LaRoche, who declined Washington’s $13.3 million qualifying offer, hit 33 homers and drove in 100 runs in addition to winning the Gold Glove at first base this season for the Nationals. He is reportedly seeking a three-year offer. So far, Washington has only been willing to go to two years, according to reports.


Would you like to have seen the Red Sox pony up for Nick Swisher (he got four years and $56M from Cleveland)?


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The Red Sox also could wait to see if Washington signs LaRoche, which could make the Nationals amenable to moving outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse in a deal. Morse, who turns 31 in March, hit 31 home runs and batted .303 in 2011, when he last played regularly, then hit 18 home runs in 406 at-bats while batting .291 last season.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox were on the verge of a big addition to the bullpen. Hanrahan saved a total of 76 games over the past two seasons for the Pirates and is a year away from free agency. With incumbent closer Andrew Bailey still a question mark after a season in which he was injured for most of the year, then pitched ineffectively, it makes sense that the Sox would explore bullpen upgrades.

Hanrahan, an All-Star in each of the past two seasons, earned $4.1 million in 2012 and can expect a significant bump in salary arbitration, to close to $7 million. He would join a formidable corps of relievers that could include Bailey, Koji Uehara, Alfredo Aceves, Junichi Tazawa, Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller and perhaps Daniel Bard, if the righthander can regain his old form.


Do you wish the Sox had offered outfielder Cody Ross a third year?


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Elsewhere over the weekend, Cody Ross signed a three-year, $26 million deal with the Diamondbacks, officially ending his chances of coming back to Boston. There was mutual interest in a return to Fenway, but the Sox apparently weren’t willing to give him a third year. Arizona not only gave him three years, it also added a club option for a fourth season.

“We just couldn’t agree on terms,” Ross told reporters as to why he didn't re-sign with the the Red Sox. “At some point, just to be completely honest with you guys, they thought I was going to come back no matter what. ... I don’t know why [a return to Boston didn’t work out]. You have to ask [the Red Sox] why.”

The 32-year-old Ross hit .267 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs for the Red Sox in his first year in Boston. At Fenway he was outstanding, hitting .298 with 39 extra base hits and a .921 OPS.

Your turn: The Red Sox seem to be at a crossroads with Napoli and close to dealing for a late-innings pitcher who could very well be their closer for 2013. They also saw a couple of options -- Swisher and Ross -- come off the table. What’s your take on these situations? Vote in the polls above and share your thoughts in the comments section.

Cody Ross heading to Arizona

December, 22, 2012
Cody Ross, Matt WietersJim Rogash/Getty ImagesGoing, going, gone: Cody Ross has agreed to a three-year contract with the Diamondbacks.
The Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to terms Saturday with free-agent outfielder Cody Ross on a three-year, $26 million contract with a club option for 2016.

"Could not be happier to be in the Dbacks family! Truly Blessed!" Ross posted on his Twitter account.


Do you wish the Sox had offered outfielder Cody Ross a third year?


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Ross, 31, is coming off a season in which he batted .267 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs in 130 games for the Boston Red Sox. The move marks a return to the NL West for Ross, who was a postseason star for the Giants in 2010. Ross is a career .262 hitter with 122 homers and 452 RBIs in 887 games.

As for the Red Sox, Ross told The Boston Globe: "I don't know what happened but we could never agree on terms. They thought I'd come back no matter what because they thought I loved playing there. And I did. Who wouldn't love playing at Fenway Park? I just wanted a fair deal. I told them what I wanted. I wasn't trying to break the bank. They weren't willing to do it."

A 10-year veteran, Ross will join a crowded Diamondbacks outfield that already includes Justin Upton, Jason Kubel and Adam Eaton. The Diamondbacks are now working to trade Kubel, according to sources. Upton also has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason.

Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney, ESPN's Jim Bowden and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Now it's your turn: Should the Sox have tried harder to bring Ross back? Vote in the poll and share your thoughts in the comments section.

The apparent sticking point in their negotiations was Ross' desire for a three-year contract. The Sox didn't want to go beyond two years, and eventually signed outfielders Jonny Gomes (2 years, $10 million) and Shane Victorino (3 years, $39 million), a sign that Ross' days in Boston might be over -- which is indeed the case with Saturday's news.

Should the Sox have given Ross a third year, or did they make the right move by holding firm and then looking elsewhere for outfield help?

Source: Ross meets with Rangers

December, 19, 2012
Outfielder Cody Ross was the latest free agent to meet with the Texas Rangers, having met with club officials Tuesday, a source confirmed.

Texas continues to explore ways to fill some holes this offseason after some of the top free agents eluded its grasp in recent weeks.

Ross, who turns 32 this weekend, hit .267 with 22 homers and had a .481 slugging percentage this past season with the Boston Red Sox. He's a right-handed hitter (but throws left) and played mainly right field in 2012, starting 90 games at that spot. But he also started 19 games in left field and three in center.

Ross is a career .262 hitter in parts of nine seasons in the big leagues with the Tigers, Dodgers, Reds, Marlins, Giants and Red Sox.

The Rangers currently have Nelson Cruz in right field, though he's slated to become a free agent after the 2013 season. If the season started today, Texas likely would use Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry in center field, with David Murphy in left.

Ben Cherington quick hits

December, 5, 2012
NASHVILLE -- Some quick hits after meeting Wednesday afternoon with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington:

• He all but ruled out trading Jacoby Ellsbury. "That's not our intent. We're expecting Jacoby to have a really good year and he's a huge part of what we're doing. ... Our expectations are that Jacoby will be here and be our center fielder."

Cherington would not say how many teams inquired about Ellsbury.

"We had a number of guys that were really wanted by teams. We're not looking to move guys off our roster. We're looking to add guys on to our roster. But you have to listen and learn and have communication."

• Even though Shane Victorino tweeted out a picture of himself in a Red Sox cap, Cherington still did not confirm the deal, as he's awaiting the physical that makes it official. "I'm glad he feels that way," Cherington said.

He said he has not talked with either Cody Ross or his agent since news of the Victorino agreement hit Tuesday, but insisted Ross remained an option.

"Any time you potentially add a player with a significant contract and dollars," he said, alluding to Victorino, "it becomes a little tougher to add more. But I don't want to rule anything out."

• Cherington admitted he met with a player this week, as's Joe McDonald reported Monday, and while he did not acknowledge that it was Josh Hamilton, there is little doubt it was with the free-agent outfielder.

• Cherington would not say whether the Red Sox were looking to add an every-day shortstop or a backup to Jose Iglesias.

"We're just trying to be opportunistic on that," he said. "We feel Jose is ready to compete for the job. We're not ready to give it to him."

• Cherington said he was unsure whether the Sox would make any more moves before he leaves here Thursday. Asked whether he thought the Sox were more likely to add pitching through free agency or a trade, he said: "We're not close enough to anything to handicap. But we're definitely talking both."

Red Sox still in the lead for Ross?

November, 28, 2012
ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney tweeted on Tuesday that the Red Sox were not only still trying to bring back Cody Ross, they're the frontrunners:

After the Red Sox signed right-handed-hitting Jonny Gomes, some wondered whether the Sox would still want to bring back Ross, as the two are similar players. Gomes' 2012 batting splits -- .262 BA/.377 OBP/.491 SLG -- were very similar to Ross' -- .267/.327/.481. Ross was popular in Boston, with a swing seemingly tailor-made to loft homers over the Green Monster. The problem is, he and Gomes are too alike to be an effective platoon: Both are right-handed, dead-pull hitters with power versus lefties (career OPS versus lefties: Gomes .894, Ross .928).


If you were Ben Cherington, would you give Cody Ross a three-year deal?


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On the surface, the biggest difference between the two is defensive ability. Ross plays a solid right field, but Gomes is a liability, even in left field, though at least the Monster cuts down on the space he'll have to cover at Fenway. Gomes actually appeared in more games for Oakland last season as a designated hitter (53, including 46 starts) than an outfielder (42 games, 28 starts), but he has little value as a DH for the Sox, assuming David Ortiz is healthy.

The team could see Gomes in a platoon role in left field (along with left-handed-hitting Ryan Kalish, perhaps?), while they could sign Ross as their full-time right fielder. At home this past season, Ross' .921 OPS put him among the league's elite. Only three American League players had more extra-base hits at home than Ross' 39: Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Robinson Cano.

In the 100 years of Fenway Park's history, only four players had more extra-base hits in their first season with the Red Sox: Ted Williams, Bill Mueller, Jimmie Foxx and Dick Stuart.

Of course, there also are those pesky road games. Away from Fenway, Ross hit just .232 with a .684 OPS.

Your turn: What's your take on Ross? Should the Red Sox be willing to give him the three-year deal he desires or should they aim higher in finding a full-time right fielder? Vote in the poll above and share your thoughts in the comments section.

Information from's Dan Peterson and Jeremy Lundblad was used in this report.

Sox should sign Cody Ross ... right?

November, 16, 2012
Cody RossBarry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesA big hit at Fenway Park, Cody Ross celebrates one of his own: a walk-off home run July 19.
BOSTON -- Even though free-agent outfielder Cody Ross is reportedly seeking a three-year contract, if the Boston Red Sox were to offer him slightly less -- say, in the range of two years and $16 million -- it could be a deal that works best for both sides.

Ross, 31, proved to be a quality asset to the Red Sox both on and off the field in 2012. He has said he would like to return to Boston. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has admitted as much and both sides have been talking since the end of last season.

Ross fits well in Boston. In 69 games at Fenway Park, he has a .292 average with 13 homers and 49 RBIs. Defensively he's solid, too. More importantly, he's well-respected in the clubhouse, especially among Red Sox veterans Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.


What would be a fair contract for free agent OF Cody Ross?


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Cherington is looking to add a pair of outfielder acquisitions this offseason. Now that Torii Hunter has signed with the Detroit Tigers for a two-year deal worth $26 million, and the Toronto Blue Jays inked Melky Cabrera to a two-year deal worth $16 million, Ross should be next.

If he wants to re-sign with Boston, then now is the time. With the core group the Red Sox have in place, including a new manager in John Farrell, Boston could be positioned to compete in the AL East in 2013 and beyond.

It doesn't matter what the Blue Jays now have on paper, or the Yankees, or the Orioles or Rays. The Red Sox have the artillery to compete in 2013. Cherington needs to fill some holes before spring training and Ross should be one of them.

He will produce. He will be a solid guy in the clubhouse. He's already familiar with the Boston market and it should be an easy fit.

Sure, there are other options for the Red Sox. Free agent Josh Hamilton is available but he's seeking a major payday, and even though the Red Sox have already discussed the possibility, it's unlikely they'll spend the money for his services.

There are others, too. Nick Swisher, who has been a fan favorite and productive for the New York Yankees for the past four seasons, is also looking for a multiyear deal and could also fit in Boston. But the Red Sox would be better off signing Ross to play right field and hope prospect Ryan Kalish is healthy and productive in left field.

The Red Sox should have extended Ross before the 2012 season ended. With the way the outfield free-agent market appears to be shaping out now, Cherington should sign Ross and have one less thing on the club's to-do list to worry about.

*Now it's your turn. Vote in the poll and weigh in with your thoughts on how the Sox should proceed with Cody Ross in the comments section.

Sources: Ross still waiting for 3-year offer

November, 5, 2012
BOSTON -- Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino watched the announcement of David Ortiz’s signing Monday in the company of D’Angelo Ortiz, the slugger’s young son whom Lucchino also signed, to a hand-written contract worth $5.

With the Ortiz family taken care of, Lucchino said the Red Sox still have unfinished business with free-agent outfielder Cody Ross.

“We love the guy,’’ Lucchino said Monday afternoon. “We love Cody Ross. We’d love to get him signed. That would be the next order of business, in some ways, for us.

“But his agent has told us they’re interested in surveying the free agency market. But we want him to know we’d love to have him come back here.’’

The Red Sox have been talking with Ross about a new deal since July, but as much as they express their love for him, that affection has yet to translate into a three-year offer, according to sources familiar with negotiations. That was the same resistance Ross faced last winter, when he left the San Francisco Giants as a free agent. Ross did not get a three-year offer from the Giants, was unable to attract one as a free agent, and ultimately signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Red Sox.

The difference between this winter and last? Ross is coming off a much better season in 2012 (.807 OPS, 22 home runs, 81 RBIs, 1.6 WAR) than he was in 2011 (.730, 14, 52, -0.1 WAR).

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that part of the goal for Ross in signing a one-year deal was to place him in a better negotiating position going forward.

“He did that, which is to his credit,’’ Cherington said. “We’re in a position now where it’s tougher to sign him. We’ll keep the door open, keep talking. At the same time, we have to consider other alternatives too.’’

One of those alternatives could be Torii Hunter, who did not receive a qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Angels and is a free agent. Hunter is 37, but is coming off an excellent season (.817 OPS, 16 HRs, 92 RBIs) and remains an above-average defender.

Cherington: 'Still working' on Ortiz deal

November, 1, 2012
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox want David Ortiz back. David Ortiz wants to be back and finish his career with the Red Sox.

The free-agent designated hitter and the club are reportedly in agreement on the length of a contract -- two years -- but the salary remains an issue. The Red Sox have until midnight Friday to come to terms with Ortiz before he's able to negotiate with other teams.


How high should the Red Sox go to sign David Ortiz to a two-year deal?


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If the sides can't come to an agreement before then, the Red Sox will make him a qualifying offer of $13.3 million, which would guarantee the team a draft pick as compensation if Ortiz signs with another club. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington hopes to avoid all of that.

"We're working on it and we've been talking to David since the end of the season," Cherington said during an interview Thursday night on Boston sports radio WEEI. "It's been a good conversation and everyone knows that we'd like to keep him. I think there's mutual interest. We've had a lot of talks and we've made up some ground in some areas, but we still have some work to do. We'll keep working on it.

"If we get past tomorrow night, we'll continue to work on it. We remain hopeful we'll keep him in a Red Sox uniform next year."

As Cherington explained, the traditional arbitration process no longer exists. Unlike a year ago, this won't drag on through the offseason and both sides hope to have a solution soon.

"We have a guy who's been here for a long time and he's been an important part of the team and we want to keep. It's just a matter of trying to find a deal that works for him and works for us. We're still working on it and hopefully we'll be able to get something done," Cherington said.

The Red Sox are also in talks with free-agent outfielder Cody Ross. Similar to the Ortiz situation, the Red Sox hope the sides can come to an agreement.

Cherington explained that when the sides met last winter before Ross signed a one-year deal with Boston, the idea was to make sure Ross would be in a better situation this offseason and would want to remain with the Red Sox.

"We didn't get the job done on a team basis, but it did work out for him. He had a good year and it ended up being the right place for him, the right ballpark, the right environment and all that. So, he's in a better position this year than he was last year and that's good for him.

"It creates a bigger challenge for us in trying to find a deal that works for him and works for us. We have talked and talked a lot. Time will tell and if we get past tomorrow night he'll have options and we have to weigh what it would take to sign him versus alternatives in the market and that's the process we're going through now."

Decision 2013: Corner outfield spots

October, 29, 2012
On each weekday until baseball’s GM meetings Nov. 7, we will spotlight one key decision the Red Sox need to make this offseason that will help determine the success or failure of the 2013 team.

Today’s topic: Who will play LF and RF for the Red Sox in 2013?

The Red Sox need to shore up the left field position for next season and beyond. It’s a position GM Ben Cherington and new manager John Farrell will focus on this offseason. But who ends up in left field could have a lot to do with who plays right field.

Defining the decision: LF was a constant concern for the Red Sox in 2012.

With Carl Crawford limited to 31 games due to injuries and ultimately traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August, Boston was forced to mix and match for the majority of the season.

[+] EnlargeCody Ross
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesCody Ross hit 22 homers in his first season with the Red Sox.
A total of nine players -- Crawford, Cody Ross, Pedro Ciriaco, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik, Nate Spears and Lars Anderson -- roamed the landscape in left field. Nava played the most with 76 games and hit .243 with six homers and 33 RBIs. A recurring wrist injury limited his ability to produce. Combined, Sox left fielders hit .267 with 14 homers and 72 RBIs on the season.

The Red Sox won’t solely focus on left field. In fact, the club has a few options available in hopes of stabilizing all three outfield positions. The key could be to find interchangeable parts with players that can play more than one outfield position.

Now that the free-agency period has opened with the conclusion of the World Series, the Red Sox will increase their talks with Ross. If the sides are able to come to an agreement and Ross re-signs with Boston, Cherington’s challenge to stabilize left field becomes more interesting.

If Kalish can remain healthy and produce the way he did during his rookie season in 2010, his ability to play both corner outfield positions will help. If the Red Sox want Kalish to play right, Ross could easily play left field. The problem is, Kalish can't stay healthy. After missing the majority of 2011 with neck and shoulder injuries, he spent the first half of 2012 recovering from surgeries on both. He was shut down in the final weeks of this season in order to help jumpstart his offseason rest period because it was such a long and arduous year of rehab for him.

Boston’s new bench coach, Torey Lovullo, managed Kalish at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2010 and witnessed first-hand what the outfielder can achieve when healthy.

“When Ryan Kalish is healthy, he’s as capable as any young player that the Red Sox have,” Lovullo said. “We got a little snapshot of that in 2010 when he had a great run. Unfortunately, these injuries have kind of sidetracked him.”

When center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was limited to 18 games in 2010 due to three separate rib injuries, Kalish emerged as a potential long-term option in the outfield. He hit .252 with four homers and 24 RBIs in 53 games as a 22-year-old that season.

Option A: Stay with current personnel

If Ross re-signs, the Red Sox don’t trade Ellsbury and Kalish is healthy, that threesome could be the starting outfield for Boston from left to right. Nava, a switch-hitter, proved he could be reliable. Ryan Sweeney, who played only 63 games due to injury in his first season in Boston, is arbitration eligible and also could be in the mix.

Option B: Go outside

[+] EnlargeNick Swisher
Anthony Gruppuso/US PresswireNick Swisher hit 24 homers in 2012 for the Yankees.
Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher is a free agent and his ability to play right field and first base could be a major asset to the Red Sox. Despite his tenure with the Yankees, Red Sox fans would certainly be drawn to a player like Swisher for his personality. He’ll be looking for another big payday, but it’s possible the 31-year-old will have to settle for a mid-level deal instead.

Another interesting addition could be veteran All-Star Torii Hunter. He’s close friends with David Ortiz and would fit well in the Red Sox clubhouse. A center fielder by trade, Hunter could play right and allow Ross or Kalish to play left.

Adding either Swisher or Hunter could allow the Sox to move Ross to left field.

Among the other intriguing free-agent options are Michael Bourne, B.J. Upton, Melky Cabrera, Ryan Ludwick and Shane Victorino.

Long shot: Josh Hamilton

The Red Sox went out of their way to shed more than $200 million in salaries after trading Crawford, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto to the Dodgers last August. Even though Hamilton is the most intriguing free agent this offseason, Cherington and the Red Sox would be taking a risk given the club’s recent history with high-priced free agents.
Only Delmon Young swung at a higher percentage of pitches this past season. No one missed on a higher percentage of his swings or chased a higher percentage of pitches outside the zone.


Besides Cody Ross, which player would you most like to see in the Red Sox outfield next season


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Hamilton is a hugely productive hitter right now, but it's pretty easy to envision a time when age catches up to him. Few power hitters have survived into old age without plate discipline. Notable exceptions include Andre Dawson and Joe Carter.

For a 31-year-old about to enjoy a huge payday, that's a troubling thought.

Hamilton would infuse the Red Sox with star power, but a risky signing seems counterproductive for a team seeking fiscal responsibility.

Your turn: What's the best option for the Red Sox?

We’ve outlined the possibilities, now tell us what you would do if you were in Ben’s shoes. Vote in the poll above and leave your more detailed thoughts in the comments section.

Information from ESPN Stats & Information's Jeremy Lundblad was used in this report.

Free agency window open for Ortiz, others

October, 29, 2012
Cody Ross and David OrtizGetty ImagesThe negotiations with Cody Ross and David Ortiz took on added urgency with the end of the World Series.
BOSTON -- The San Francisco Giants' four-game sweep of Detroit in the World Series has accelerated the clock on free agency, as prospective free agents were eligible to file immediately after the conclusion of the Series.


Which is the bigger Sox priority?


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The Red Sox have seven prospective free agents -- DH David Ortiz, outfielders Cody Ross and Scott Podsednik, first baseman James Loney, reliever Vicente Padilla and starting pitchers Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

The Sox have signaled their intentions to re-sign Ortiz and Ross, and according to a baseball source last week were closing in on an extension to sign Ortiz, who would like to end his career with the Red Sox. The sides have agreed on a two-year term, the source said, but were still negotiating the dollars, with Ortiz seeking in the neighborhood of $25 million and the Sox offering a figure believed to be several million less.

Last winter, the Red Sox offered Ortiz a two-year deal for $18 million, but he declined it and accepted salary arbitration instead. Ortiz and the club reached an agreement before a scheduled hearing, Ortiz signing a one-year deal for $14.575 million.

Ortiz turns 37 on Nov. 18, but is coming off a season in which he was on pace to have his best season since 2007 until he missed 71 games with a strained right Achilles tendon. Ortiz had 23 home runs in just 90 games, and his OPS of 1.026 was his highest since his 1.066 in 2007.

The Red Sox, in order to obtain draft-pick compensation for Ortiz or any of their other free agents, before 5 p.m. on Friday must make a qualifying offer, which is based on the average salary of the highest-paid 125 players in the game. That figure this season is expected to be around $13.3 million.

If a player receives a qualifying offer and accepts it, he becomes a signed player for the 2013 season. He has until 12 days after the World Series to accept a qualifying offer. If a player who receives a qualifying offer signs with another team, that team surrenders its first-round draft choice and the team losing the free agent gains a supplemental first-round pick, or “sandwich pick,” after the first round.

Free agents may sign with teams other than their own club six days after the World Series, which means the Red Sox will already be reaching out to players they have targeted.

That would seem to give the Red Sox some urgency to get a deal done for Ortiz in order to avoid the possibility of losing him or having him accept a qualifying offer.

The Red Sox also were expected to have organizational meetings this week, with manager John Farrell due to return to Boston by Tuesday, but those plans may be impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The Sox also had plans to interview pitching coach Rick Peterson sometime this week, but that also could face delays because of the weather.

Sox stuck together through bad times

October, 4, 2012
NEW YORK -- In the moments before the visitor’s clubhouse emptied late Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, each and every Boston Red Sox player and staff member gave out handshakes and hugs to one another.

Some players were traveling back to Boston on the team’s charter flight, while others were spending the night in New York and traveling to their homes on Thursday morning. For a team that finished the season in last place in the A.L. East with a 69-93 record, there was a sense of relief that it was finally over.

For all the problems both on and off the field for the Red Sox in 2012, the players were a close group.

[+] EnlargeDustin Pedroia
Elsa/Getty ImagesDustin Pedroia and James Loney wait for a pitching change during the Red Sox's 93rd loss of the season.
“Obviously there was a lot of talk going into the season about the clubhouse and I still stand by it until this day that it was a good clubhouse,” outfielder Cody Ross said. “We all got along, we all liked each other and hung out together, not only at the field but off the field. It’s a great group of guys.”

Ross was one of the last players to leave the clubhouse Wednesday night. Despite the difficult season, he remained positive throughout.

“It was tough, obviously,” Ross said. “It didn’t turn out the way we all anticipated during spring training. We had high expectations for ourselves and everybody did for us. Nobody feels worse than we do. As a team, obviously, we underachieved and didn’t play as good as we were supposed to.

“At the same time, a lot of guys worked really hard in here and kept battling, kept fighting and didn’t give up. That’s all you can ask for when you’re having a tough season, or had a tough season like we did. Guys kept going and fighting.”

Many of Ross' teammates agreed with his comments about the team’s unity.

“It wasn’t what we expected, obviously, but we grew to know a lot about each other through all the hard times and sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do to get better,” catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “We’ve seen each other at our worst and we’ve seen each other at our best. Through it all we still stuck together. The last two months wasn’t easy being out of contention, just basically going out there and playing hard every night. We lived and died with each other and that’s exactly what happened.”

“From a team standpoint, we just didn’t play up to our capabilities,” shortstop Mike Aviles said. “You can’t call it a positive season when we’re in last place and we didn’t do the things we were expected to do, or what we expected ourselves to do, or what we should have been. It wasn’t a fun season. It was mentally draining, as well as physically draining, so it wasn’t the most fun of situations.”

Probably knowing his days as manager are over, Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine sat at the desk in his office and spoke about how bad the season was.

“It was a very disappointing season. Extremely disappointing,” Valentine said. “It was going to end sometime. I’m glad Baltimore lost before our game was over if that’s any consolation, but I don’t think that it is.

“It was trying. I don’t know how it could be more challenging than this season.”

Valentine held one last team meeting before the game and he said his message was simple.

“There are a lot of individual things people can gain from this season and they shouldn’t lose sight of it,” Valentine said. “As I told them, they are not defined as people by their record of a season. They’re defined by who they are and not what they are. They were part of a real lousy season but they gave it a hell of an effort every day.

“I’m proud of all of them.”

Valentine was scheduled to travel back with the team and will be in Boston on Thursday morning. He’ll meet with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and ownership at some point in the next day or two.

“My plans right now are to wake up and have a long bike ride,” he said.

Ross: Contract talks in 'beginning stages'

September, 23, 2012
Outfielder Cody Ross, whose first season with the Red Sox has been one of the few positives for the team this season, said he is in talks with the team about coming back in 2013.

"I'm a free agent at the end of this season," Ross wrote in a diary entry for "There are talks going on with the Red Sox. We're in the beginning stages of talking. Hopefully we can get something done. Obviously, I want to come back here and be a part of this team."

Ross, who signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Red Sox last offseason, is batting .270 with 21 home runs, 77 RBIs and an .824 OPS in 122 games. He had the go-ahead RBI double in the eighth inning of Boston's 2-1 win over the Orioles on Sunday.

A source told ESPNBoston's Gordon Edes last month that the Red Sox had told Ross they'd like to bring him back. Ross, 31, has proven well suited for Fenway Park and has stayed above the fray in a tumultuous season in Boston. He is expected to seek at least a three-year deal from the Red Sox.

Final Cody Ross diary: Wants to come back

September, 23, 2012
Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross has kept a diary for this season. In this final installment, he talks about what needs to get better next year, reveals whether there have been talks with the team about staying here, explains why he has something to say about Aaron Rodgers, and gives a glimpse inside the locker room. Ross also wants to deliver a message to the fans. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta)

Cody RossSome of you may have seen me when we were in Tampa last week wearing my son Hudson's pants during batting practice. Hudson has a home jersey and a road jersey. His road gear goes in my bag when we travel and gets hung in my locker. I was having a conversation with Ryan Kalish and I wear short pants for BP. Without looking, I went to go grab the pants that I thought were mine. When I went to put them on, they were a little tight. Everyone thought wearing Hudson's pants was really funny. So I put them on in the clubhouse and started walking around. Some of the guys were telling me to wear them out to BP and it became kind of a joke. I wore them out there and got a few laughs out of it. The guys wanted me to wear them during the game. They started pooling their money and it got close to $10,000 they were offering me. Obviously, I didn't want to turn down the money, but I was so afraid that when I was going to slide or run that the seams were just going to bust open and I'd be out there exposed. So even though it was tough to turn down, I did.

We are finishing the season against the Orioles, Rays and Yankees. All we can do at this point is go out and play hard for the integrity of the game and try to play spoiler and win games. Even though we are out it, it still feels good to go out and win, go in the clubhouse and hear music playing and have a good time. If we're not going to be in the playoffs, we don't want anyone else to be is the type of attitude we have.

[+] EnlargeCody Ross
AP Photo/Steven SenneIt hasn't been a great season for the Sox, but Cody Ross has enjoyed his time in Boston.
I don't set personal goals going into a season. Just for the simple fact that if I were to reach those goals and we still had 15 or 20 games to go, I'd feel like I'd shut it down and be content with it. I just try to go out and contribute on a daily basis. At the end of the year, you look back and look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you gave everything you had. So for me, that's all I do.

As this season winds to an end, something I'm taking with me is a jersey, as every team that I've played for I have a jersey framed in my office. But when I think back on this season, for me, it was a gut check and a learning experience. Nobody in our clubhouse saw this one coming. It happens. It's baseball. We just have to learn from it, try to make ourselves better and look forward to next year. At this point, that's all we can do. Going into next year, I would say, what we have to improve on is just every aspect of the game. You know ... everything.

I'm a free agent at the end of this season. There are talks going on with the Red Sox. We're in the beginning stages of talking. Hopefully we can get something done. Obviously, I want to come back here and be a part of this team. I think this will be a really good team for a long time. I think they'll make some really good moves. The number one thing for me is winning. I want to win. At this point in my career, there is nothing that is going to satisfy me in baseball more than winning. Money is good, yes, but that only goes so far. I've seen a lot of people make a lot of money and never win or not play well and not be happy. Winning is the number one thing for me.

This offseason I expect to be very similar to last offseason, I would assume. I am going to take a couple weeks off and then start hitting early. I started hitting early last year. Previously, I didn't start hitting until around January. Then last year, I started hitting at the end of October. I noticed when I picked up the bat this past spring training that I wasn't totally lost. A lot of times, if you go for a long period of time without picking up a bat, you lose it. It takes a while to find it and get it back. I'm going to do the same thing this year: Start hitting early and keep working out. Once January hits, then really get after it.

I liked a lot of your suggestions for my fantasy football team I have with Jacoby Ellsbury. Night at the Rossbury was a really good one. I like that. We did come up with a name though: Ellrozay. Ell for Ellsbury and Rozay for me because all the guys on the team call me Rozay. Because my last name is Ross and there is a rapper named Rick Ross who calls himself Rozay. So all the players call me Rozay. I like Ellrozay because it kind of sounds Spanish.

Ellrozay is a really good team. When we reshuffled the draft order because we had traded away half our fantasy team players, we went from the number one pick to the number two overall pick. We drafted Aaron Rodgers. He is who we wanted. Arian Foster went first and we weren't going to take him. I do have something to say to Aaron Rodgers though. We need you to pick it up Aaron, come on. I always get tweets about how I need to start picking up my game for fantasy players. So I'm going to go out and say to Aaron, “Pick it up!” But, my team is off to a good start. We had a little hiccup where we lost Week 2 because Antonio Gates said he was playing and then all of a sudden right before the game he didn't. Jacoby and I had already set our lineup. We were playing in our own game at the time. So we couldn't change our lineup. We had zero points there and it ended up costing us the win.

I wanted to have a little fun in this final dairy by giving you a glimpse into what our locker room is really like. So here are my nominations for the following ...

Best dressed on this team: Well, besides me, I'd have to say David Ortiz. He mixes it up. He wears the suits and the ties but then he'll throw on a pair of nice jeans with a coat and a little handkerchief in the pocket and always with the cool sunglasses, the bling chain and watch that sparkles like crazy.

Wardrobe challenged: I would say Aaron Cook because he looks like he's going fishing when he gets on the plane. Clay Buchholz as well. They're cowboys. They always look they should be out fishing. We need to clean that up.

Most talkative: Dustin Pedroia in spurts. He has his moments where he goes and goes but then he has his time when he is just quiet. When you get him going though, it's nonstop. Pedal to the metal. It's entertaining when he gets going.

Shyest: James Loney. I played with him when we were both in the National League. He's shy but when you get to know him, he opens up. A great, great guy who is fun to be around. But if you don't know him, he's definitely shy.

Can't walk by a mirror without checking himself out: Mike Aviles. He's not afraid to look at himself and admire his body, hair, those giant calves, and everything else.

Best nickname: Saltalamacchia Pet, like a Chia Pet because of his hair. I think Jacoby came up with that because that's who I got it from.

Could make a career out of playing video games: Clay, not even close. He's constantly on his iPad playing a game or on his PS4 or whatever it is. He's got some sort of gadget he's playing all the time. He's talented. He plays that. He plays the guitar. He plays everything. I don't know how he has time to learn all these things. It's unbelievable.

First to offer to pick up the check: Dustin Pedroia is generous but all the guys that were very generous got traded ... Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett. But really, the most generous by far is absolutely John Lackey. He is the most generous player maybe ever.

Worst voice: Pedro Ciriaco hands down is the worst singer I may have ever heard in my life. We get the rookies up on the bus when we're on the road and make them sing. Pedro is not good, wow, really not good.

Best voice: Jose Iglesias. When he sings Enrique Iglesias he sounds just like him. Jose is definitely the best rookie singing voice.

In case you are wondering if we are going to make our rookies dress up in costumes, the answer is yes. We are taking a train from Baltimore to New York. Once we get to New York, we're going to drop them off in Times Square or someplace like that. What the costumes will be is classified information. We are in the process of deciding that. You'll have to wait to see what we dress them up as.

I hope this look into our locker room let's you see that I've had an absolute blast with most everybody here. A great group that maybe didn't turn out on the field the way we expected or hoped it would, still along the way we had some fun times. I enjoyed every second that I've been here.

Lastly, I wanted to say something to all the Red Sox fans out there. Thank you guys for the support throughout the year. I know it's been a tough year as well. Hopefully we can turn this ship around. Playing at Fenway, I find to be one of the best places to hit in the whole League. It's one of the best places to play because of the fans. There are very few ballparks where you get to play in front of a packed house every night in the major leagues. I've had a blast playing here.