NEW YORK -- After watching from the dugout for the first two games of the season, David Ross gets his first start for the Red Sox Thursday night, charged with catching Ryan Dempster's first starting assignment with the Red Sox.
Ross is in his 12th major league season, but except for eight games with the 2008 Red Sox, he's been exclusively a National League player.
Now that interleague play has taken place for 17 years and umpiring crews have become standard, some believe there isn't much difference between the leagues. But Ross still sees some conrasts.
"I see it more how you work a lineup from a catcher's standpoint," said Ross. "(In the NL), you've always got that ace in the hole with the pitcher's in there. (If) the five-hole hitter leads off with a double, if you don't get the six-hole guy out, you walk him. Then you're in the seven-hole, they might bunt that guy, you might not. You're a double play away. You strike one guy out and now you've got the eight-hole guy, who's usually a weaker bat in there for defense and you're not really too scared of him.
"If he gets into a hitter's count, you can still walk him and you've got the bases loaded with the pitcher up and now you've got the opportunity for a strikeout or a double play. And then the only guy you've got to get out is the leadoff guy. So you're constantly trying to work around that weak area of the lineup. Here (in the A.L.), you replace the pitcher with a guy like David Ortiz and that's a little bit tougher and that's generally why games are a little longer.
"I'm going to be feeling my way through that. Watching, the first two days, how Salty went about his work was a lot of eductation for me and watching how the game plays out in general."
Ross has also detected a more offense-first style of play in the American League, where few teams think about small ball.
"First game, we had a 4-0 lead," he said. "That game's over in the National League, 95 percent of the time; it doesn't matter what inning it is. It's definitely not over over here. Guys are looking to add on. I think it's going to be a little different. We'll feel it out and hopefully it works out well.
"Like last night -- there were two outs and a six-run lead and (Travis Hafner swung at the first pitch and hit a homer. That stuff doesn't homer in the National League. You can be aggressive (in your approach), but I'm not expecting him to swing from the bench. Those kind of learning experiences have been good for me.
"These guys are hit, hit, hit, hit. National League guys will take and they'll play the game a little more. Here, it's, 'Hey man, I'm going to try to get a hit every time you throw a (pitch).' So that's a little different mindset."