Another unexpected landing for Ross
Like he has in the past, ex-Giants outfielder embraces new opportunity with Boston
"Oh, if they would have built it when we were coming up, I'd probably still be a Marlin," said Ross, one of the team's most popular players. "Who knows, though? I thought I was going to be a Marlin a while. That's the way the game is. They had some really good prospects coming up with [Giancarlo] Stanton and Logan [Morrison] and [Chris] Coghlan.
"But you know, things always work out the way they're supposed to."
The Red Sox can only hope things work out as well for Ross in Boston as they did when the Marlins placed him on waivers in 2010 and he was claimed by the San Francisco Giants. Ross was making $4 million for the Marlins, who were hoarding every penny and didn't see Ross fitting into their long-term plans. They'd held onto him at the trading deadline, when they still thought they had a shot at a wild-card spot, but then placed him on waivers in August.
He was heartbroken, and told the Marlins' brass that.
"I looked every one of the guys in the eye and said, 'You guys are making the wrong decision,'" he told the Miami Herald at the time. "I got really emotional. Started crying."
The Marlins were mostly competitive in the four seasons Ross was there, but with thousands of empty seats every night, management never made that extra move to put the Marlins over the top, preferring to see how long the team could survive on a shoestring budget.
"We competed every year, but were we a playoff team? No," Ross said. "We never made the moves at the deadline. I remember one year , when Boston put Manny [Ramirez] on the board, and it was, 'he's going to Miami, he's going to Miami, he's going to Miami.' We all thought he was coming. That was the rumor.
"Then bam! He's in L.A. and carries them all the way through [to the playoffs]. And we had pitching that year -- Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez. We had some really good pitching, but Manny didn't happen and it was all downhill after that."
When Ross went to the Giants two years later, there was no bam! Not right away. He had just three home runs for the Giants in 73 at-bats down the stretch. By the end of the season, the Giants looked like their outfield was set with Pat Burrell, Andres Torres and Jose Guillen, with Ross the odd man out.
But then came news that Guillen was a target of a federal investigation after a shipment of HGH (human growth hormone) was sent to his wife. Giants manager Bruce Bochy insists Guillen's neck was bothering him, but you can draw your own conclusions. The Giants left Guillen off the postseason roster, and an unlikely hero was born: Cody Ross.
He hit five home runs in the postseason, three in his first six at-bats, two in one game off Phillies ace Roy Halladay. He drove in 10 runs. He was voted MVP of the National League Championship Series. He regaled writers with tales of how, growing up in New Mexico, he aspired to be a rodeo clown because his dad was in the rodeo. And Giants fans chanted his name, "Co-dy, Co-dy," with the same cadence they had once chanted "Bar-ry, Bar-ry," for a guy named Bonds.
And when the Giants won a World Series for the first time in the 53 years since the franchise moved to San Francisco, Ross joined the company of the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower and Fisherman's Wharf as sights not to be missed.
"I would assume it was similar to when [Dustin] Pedroia or Big Papi [David Ortiz] are walking down the street in Boston," he said. "That's the kind of fans they have in San Francisco. I couldn't go anywhere without people coming up to me and thanking me and saying, 'My grampaw's grampaw was a lifelong Giants fan and you guys did it for the first time in the history of San Francisco.' There were millions of stories like that.
"I was telling them, 'Thank you. Don't thank me. Thank you for supporting me'
"As soon as we won the World Series and the parade was over, my wife and I took a trip to Napa. It was kind of relaxed, and we soaked it all in. I thought we were getting away, but there were a ton of Giants fans there, too. They were a little more low-key, but it was fun. We had a blast."
The Giants and Ross both came back to earth last season. The Giants lost their star catcher, Buster Posey, to a season-ending leg injury. Ross strained a calf muscle in an exhibition game and missed the Giants' first 17 games. He got his average up to .275 by the All-Star break but slumped badly in the second half of the season, when he posted a batting line of .197/.282/.377/.659. and ended the season with a pulled hamstring.
The cable-car ride had come to the end of the line. Just as was the case with the Marlins, Ross didn't want to leave, but the Giants, citing budget constraints, cut their ties when they didn't offer the free agent salary arbitration. "The Giants were definitely my No. 1 choice," Ross said at the time. "I was looking at any possible scenario, any way, any how. Give them a hometown discount, whatever, to help their payroll. But they would not commit to more than a year."
Much to his surprise and that of his agent, Ross never got the multiyear offer he expected on the open market. The Red Sox signed him to a one-year, $3 million deal late in the free-agent season, Jan. 26, which is less than half the $6.3 million he was paid in 2011 by the Giants.
The Sox made the deal only after Carl Crawford had wrist surgery, trading shortstop Marco Scutaro to free up money. Ross will be given the chance to compete for the everyday job in right field. If that doesn't materialize, he is expected to be part of a righty-lefty platoon with another newcomer, Ryan Sweeney, the hope being that Fenway Park will be more conducive to his right-handed power than AT@T Park was.
"My mindset is to play every day," he said. "That's the way everyone should feel, every person in this clubhouse. Obviously, there are roles, but you come to work every day prepared to help the team."
And trust, as he learned after he left the Marlins, that things always work out the way they're supposed to.
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.