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.''