Ross excited to reunite with Red Sox

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Ross excited to reunite with Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- This is not the first time that David Ross has been in a Red Sox uniform. That happened in 2008, when Ross was a late-season acquisition for a team searching for catching depth.

His time with the Sox was short. But it was just enough to whet his appetite. Ross was obtained from the Reds in mid-August and experienced a bit of culture shock.

"I was just trying to sit back and take it all in," he recalled Tuesday morning. "You come from a market like Cincinnati to a market like Boston and all the fans. I was just trying to take it all in and see how a big market works. It was the first time I had been in a market like Boston and the fan following was just awesome to me. It was definitely different.

"I was kind of the third catcher (behind Jason Varitek and Kevin Cash). I think I was there for defensive reasons if they pinch-hit. They put me on the roster in the playoffs, which was kind of cool and fun. I got a little bit of taste of Boston. That's probably the reason why I'm back, because of how much fun it was to see those guys in 2008, how much fun they had and how close they were, how people treated one another, the front office included, and how much respect they had for the players in their roles. That's probably one of the reasons I'm back."

Ross was the team's first signing off the off-season and came as something of a surprise, given the presence of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway, along with the team's developing interest in Mike Napoli.

But the Sox valued Ross's defensive skills, his leadership and his ability to work with a pitching staff and offered him a two-year, 6.2 million deal.

"The way they treated me was No. 1," Ross said. "You could tell I was a priority. They came early on, saying all the right things and really committed to me as the whole deal. The way they treated me was above and beyond. And knowing the talent level here (helped). As a catcher, it's not fun to catch a bad staff. It makes the games long and a lot of hard work. Knowing the talent level here they have on the staff, that was kind of a bonus.

"It was just nice to see how they pursued me, how aggressive they were early on. You want to feel wanted by the organization that brings you in. That was one of the key things for me. It was nerve-wracking when there are all these teams calling and you're trying to make the right decision for you and your family. But it was a lot of fun to be wanted, I know that."

At the time, the Sox were unsure of their catching situation. They had yet to sign Napoli -- whom they initially envisioned catching some, before a hip condition changed his contract and altered the Red Sox' plans for him as solely a first baseman -- and they already had Saltalamacchia and Lavarnway.

"I think they were still undecided on what they were going to do when they were talking to me,'' Ross said. "They asked, 'Do you care who you play alongside or back up or whatever your role is?' I said I was going to try to be the best teammate I can and work hard on the days I play. I'm going to do the best I can to win and support whoever my teammate is. That's kind of how I was raised. I feel like that's the right thing to do.

"At this point in my career, I'm not trying to put up any Hall of Fame numbers or anything. I just want to win. I feel like this place gave me the best chance."

More recently, both manager John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington have said Saltalamacchia will be the first-string catcher with Ross as the backup and Lavarnway probably ticketed for a return to Triple A.

In Atlanta, Ross was credited with helping a number of top young pitchers (Craig Kimbrel, Kris Medlen, Jonny Venters, Julio Teheran) and as the Red Sox look to integrate number of younger pitchers themselves, it's believed that Ross's work in that area will be beneficial.

"Sometimes you have to think outside the box,'' Ross said. "That's where experience comes in. Veteran catchers like myself that have been around a little bit can still play because the knowledge you have upstairs helps out a little bit at crucial times. I hope to bring any experience and knowledge I have to this team and any questions those guys ask."

Ross is looking forward to working with Saltalamacchia and, from a distance, is impressed by the progress his teammate has made.

"When you have a catcher hitting 20-plus homers a year," he said, "that's impressive. This game's hard in general but catching is really, really tough. When you can be an everyday catcher and put up some good offensive numbers, especially power numbers back there (that's great).

"It will be a blast. The guy hit 25 jacks last year. It's going to be a lot of fun. He's a good guy, hard worker. It's going to be a lot of fun just talking it out. He's got experience. I've been privileged enough to be around some good catchers. He's one of those. I'm excited to work with him and be his teammate and help him with whatever he needs done."

And though Saltamacchia is younger and doesn't have as much big league experience, he does have a background with these Red Sox pitchers. That's a resource Ross can utilize.

"He'll have a good idea about what a guy can do and what he can't do," Ross said, "what this guy should be working on or not. We'll talk about that after we get going. But we've been talking about a lot of everything, so it's going to be fun."

New season, new pitcher, new persona: The evolution of Rick Porcello

New season, new pitcher, new persona: The evolution of Rick Porcello

BOSTON -- Just over a year ago, Rick Porcello made his return from the 15-day disabled list, and the righty's not only been a new pitcher, but a new person at times.

“Pretty Ricky” is still the mild-mannered, well-spoken pitcher off the field, but between the white lines the 27-year-old's unexpectedly shown a gritty side of late.

Part of his alter ego is his sweat-crowned cap that's helped him find a way into Red Sox Nation’s heart by indirectly paying homage to Trot Nixon, one of Boston’s most hard-nosed players in recent history.

“I don’t know how that happens,” Porcello said bewildered by his unsightly, yet lucky hat. “It’s disgusting. Trust me, I don’t even want to put it on.

“I wear the same hat throughout the course of the season if things are going well, and if they’re not I change it out.”

His hat is one of the more glaring changes to the 2016 version of Rick Porcello -- given the contradiction with his nickname. But what’s also come to surface with his Cy Young-caliber pitching is his toughness.

And we’re not talking about his ability to get out of jams -- although that’s been the case too. We’re talking about his frustration every time he gets pulled in the middle of an inning, and, even more so, chirping at opposing players -- like he did Chase Headley, giving some life to the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry that’s been in a lull the last few seasons.

“I’m not really sure why I did it [to Headley] and in Detroit,” Porcello said his recent change in behavior. “I don’t like to be vocal like that. I like to just try to go out there and do my job. That’s really it. I’m not a guy that screams at guys on the mound.

“But I think there are times, when, if you feel strongly about something that’s going on, then you need to speak up instead of just letting it continue. That’s all that was.”

If you haven’t heard Rick Porcello in the postgame interview following his starts, those reactions on the mound aren't something anyone would expect from him. He’s always one to take his time articulating his points in detail -- far from some of the shoot-from-the-hip players Boston’s had in the past.

“I don’t think that’s really indicative of my personality or anything like that,” the righty said on his changing mound presence. “I mean, when I’m between the lines, I’m definitely not trying to make friends with the other team. I’m trying to beat ‘em. That’s really all I care about, is us winning games. If I feel like they’re doing something to alter that -- and it’s not right -- then I’ll say something. But I don’t fell like I’m running around like a hothead just screaming at everybody.

“It’s a little bit different when you’re between the lines and you’re competing. We’re in a race right now. You’re emotions are going to be running high. Certain things at certain levels that you get to on the field you don’t get to in any other aspect in your life. Whether it’s the adrenaline or just the emotion that comes through, those sorts of things. I think a lot of guys when they’re competing and they get into that moment, they turn into a bit of different person or a different animal. That’s all that is.”

The Cy Young candidate also mentioned the recent outbursts were more situation-based, rather than results of playing both Boston’s greatest rival or his old team.

While it’s made his already impressive starts even more entertaining, Porcello doesn’t want his competitiveness to mistaken for disrespect towards the game or his opponents. But he intends to get the message across that he’s not only passionate about winning, but will speak up if he deems it necessary.

“It’s a fine line between being composed and when something goes down then you say what you need to say or you’re just running around like a hothead,” Porcello said. “I definitely don’t want to be the latter. But I’m passionate about what we’re doing and I’m passionate about our team and winning. Anything can happen when you’re out there and those things are at stake.”

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar

Quotes, notes and stars: Barnes takes the blame in loss

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Quotes, notes and stars: Barnes takes the blame in loss

BOSTON -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

QUOTES

“That one’s one me. I’ve got to do a better job of securing that lead and getting out of that inning.” - Matt Barnes on giving up the lead.

“When he tries to go down and away to right-handers, the ball’s leaking back to the middle a bit. That was the case against [Lorenzo] Cain [and Raul] Mondesi in this case tonight. It’s on the plate first pitch, bases loaded he’s trying to get a strike to get ahead. But in general, Barnes has pitched to the edge at times and missed, and then when he’s on the plate it’s probably found the middle of the plate a bit too much.” - John Farrell on Barnes’ outing.

“I think everybody in that bullpen believes in every single person down there.” - Barnes said on the bullpen.

“It was good, everything was good . . . Just the fastball command was a little out of control.” - Eduardo Rodriguez on his left hamstring and his performance.

 

NOTES

* David Ortiz launched his 31st home run of the season, which also marked the 534th of his career, tying Jimmie Foxx for 18th on the all-time home run chart.

* Mookie Betts recorded his Major League-leading 56th multi-hit game of the season.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. finished 1-for-2, bumping his average to .317 (77-for-243) at Fenway this season.

* The Red Sox grounded into four double plays, tying their season high on 6/12 against Minnesota.

* Matt Barnes’ ERA jumped from 3.68 before Sunday’s game to 4.45 after giving up 5 runs without recording an out.

 

STARS

1) Raul Mondesi

Mondesi’s bases-clearing triple in the sixth opened the floodgates and gave Kansas City the lead they would continue to build off.

2) Matt Strahm

 Strahm relieved Yordano Ventura after his short 4 and 1/3-inning outing. He held the Red Sox scoreless through 2.2 innings to earn his second win of the season.

3) Salvador Perez

Perez launched his sixth home run in his last eight games against Boston. He became the Royal to homer in three-straight games at Fenway since Billy Butler did in 2011.