Ross not concerned about 2011 collapse

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Ross not concerned about 2011 collapse

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After the way last season ended for the Red Sox, it might have scared off a number of prospective free agents.

After all, a history-making slide coupled with a toxic clubhouse environment isn't exactly the best incentive to attract players.

But Cody Ross, who signed a one-year, 3 million deal with the Red Sox in January, was never dissuaded.

"I just thought it was a great fit,'' said Ross after arriving in camp Tuesday. "There were quite a few options that I had, but at the end of the day, I felt like this was the best situation for me. I felt like this team was on the right track, trying to get to that next level and win championship.

"I talked to a few guys before about it and everyone was obviously down about last year, but looking forward to this year and coming in and trying to repeat what they've done in the past. I'm looking forward to being a part of it.''

Ross is joining his sixth organization, having spent almost all of his career in the National League.

He learned about the Red Sox struggles and dysfunction only after it was done. In September, he had other things with which to concern himself.

"To be quite honest with you,'' he said, "I really didn't realize it all that much because we were going through our own struggles (in San Francisco) ourselves -- to have a team win a World Series and not even come back and make the playoffs? That's terrible.

"I was trying to focus on that. I really didn't know what was going on until the off-season -- (the Sox) and the (Atlanta) Braves had similar slides going down the stretch. It didn't affect my decision (to sign here). I knew everyone in here wanted to go to that next level.

"They want to play in the playoffs. If anything it helped (to make my decision).''

This season represents a fresh start for the Sox, who have a new manager, a new general manager, a new spring training complex, and several new players.

Ross is part of that makeover. He not only has a reputation for someone who crushes lefthanded pitching, but he's also regarded as a high character player.

"I knew the changes that they made,'' said Ross. "They're trying to get a different feel, a different look. I felt like I'd be a perfect fit coming in, maybe bringing some different energy.''

Ross is in the mix for right field, battling, among others, Ryan Sweeney, Darnell McDonald, and when he's healthy, Ryan Kalish.

Given the Red Sox' pursuit of him and his salary, it would seem that he'll be a regular, but he's taking nothing for granted.

"I feel like I have to earn a job every single year,'' he said. "I like that feeling. It puts that good pressure on you -- to go out and perform and not feel (too) comfortable.''

Having played in the N.L. since 2004, Ross's exposure to Fenway has been limited to a few interleague visits. As a natural pull hitter, it's an inviting ballpark, seemingly tailored for him.

"It's suited for any righthander's swing,'' he said. "I do hit a lot of fly balls to left field. It can help. But it can also hurt you. If you sit there and you're conscious of trying to hit the ball over The Wall every time you get up there, chances are it's not going to happen.

"So I'm just going to stay with my approach -- my approach that I've had for years and years will play well.''

Backes: Bruins were ‘wounded’ after ugly Detroit loss

Backes: Bruins were ‘wounded’ after ugly Detroit loss

BRIGHTON, Mass – It certainly sounded like there were some things that made the Wednesday night loss in Detroit a little different for the Bruins.

The Bruins media corps conducted postgame interviews in the hallway rather than in the visiting dressing room after what must have been a combustible atmosphere immediately following the shootout defeat. 

There was also evidence of anger in the visitor’s dressing room at Joe Louis Arena, according to reports, with a door off its hinges when the media was able to get a look inside the dressing room area.

David Backes confirmed something was different about the loss after blowing a pair of three-goal leads, and failing to follow up their dreadful no-show vs. the Islanders with a winning performance against another bad team in Detroit. The B’s forward said the plane ride home from Detroit was solemn and quiet, and that it was clear the Bruins team was “wounded” after a crushing loss.

“Both [losses] can be great lessons if we learn from it, and neither was very enjoyable. That was probably the quietest I think our guys were all year on that plane ride home from Detroit,” said Backes. “To me, that’s a great sign that it hit us in the heart, and it hit us where it really mattered. We’re thinking about how we can turn the tide and thinking about we can be victorious the next time out.

“We had the lead, and in a lot of instances you’re expecting, as you should, to come out of there with two points. We’re at the time in the season where wins need to be garnered and taken home.

“There were a lot of aspects where we should have grabbed the game back. When you feel like you’ve had a lot of opportunities to take the game and you don’t do it, it’s not a good feeling. I was reflecting on that during a very quiet team plane ride back from Detroit, and it seemed pretty clear that the whole team was feeling wounded. I think it’s a good sign that guys were feeling that way, and that means they’re going to do everything in their power to not have that feeling again.”

The words are encouraging from a 32-year-old natural leader in Backes, who has seen good times and bad as captain of the St. Louis Blues in his 10-year NHL career. But the proof is ultimately on the ice where the Bruins have games against the Blackhawks and Penguins coming up and face some very stiff tests coming off a couple of losses against the worst teams in the East that exposed Black and Gold fragility at this point in the season. 


 

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins, looking for a spark after terrible, back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings, are hoping the return of Matt Beleskey from a knee injury can help provide the inspiration. 

The blue-collar left winger has missed the past 23 games with a torn MCL in his right knee suffered in early December against the Buffalo Sabres, but now he’s easing back into the lineup on the fourth line in Friday night’s showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Beleskey was skating with Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik on the fourth line at morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena and should be expected to throw a few hard hits and play with some intensity in his return.

“I’m ready to go and excited to get back out there,” said Beleskey, who has been skating with the team for roughly a week after giving the knee sufficient time to heal. “I’ve just got to keep it simple and do what I do well: Be hard on pucks, take the body and just try and find your groove. You don’t want to expect too much in your first game back, but you just want to be able to contribute.

“’I’ve been saving [the pent-up energy] for a while, so I’m ready to get back out there and hopefully provide a spark for us.”

The Beleskey return also provides the player with a bit of a reset button after a slow start to the season that saw him with two goals and five points along with a minus-6 rating in 24 games played for the Black and Gold prior to his injury. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairs against the Blackhawks based on morning skate today:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Beleskey/Blidh-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask