BOSTON – Cody Ross was one of the few stabilizers in what was otherwise a chaotic and dysfunctional 2012 season for the Red Sox. He played 130 games, batting .267 with 22 home runs, 81 RBI, and an OPS of .807. His uppercut swing was tailor-made for Fenway Park, just as his personality and demeanor were for the rigors of a demanding market and a clubhouse in turmoil.
But, rather than re-sign Ross after the season, the Sox let him go in free agency to Arizona, where he signed a three-year, $26 million contract in February. Ross said Friday afternoon, before the start of a three-game interleague series between the Sox and D’backs, that general manager Ben Cherington told him the team was not looking to sign long-term deals. That was before the Sox right fielder Shane Victorino to a three-year deal, Jonny Gomes to a two-year, $10 million contract, and offered first baseman Mike Napoli three years, before settling on a one-year deal because of Napoli’s issues with his hips.
Ross’ disappointment in the team’s decision was still evident for the outfielder, who returned to Fenway on Friday, the first time since Oct. 3, his last game with the Red Sox, when he went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
"I wouldn't say betrayed, just maybe jaded a little bit," Ross said. "When you hear one thing from the top that they're not going to sign guys to long-term deals and then turn around a week later and do it, it doesn't really -- I mean I'm a person, too. I'm not just a baseball player. You know, I have emotions and feelings. Even though some people don’t think that we do, we do.”
Ross said his feelings were magnified because of the solid relationship he thought he had established with Cherington.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't surprised," said Ross. "Me and Ben had a great relationship, very open. I felt like I could go and talk to him about anything. He would come to me and talk about certain stuff that you know that general managers don't necessarily approach players about sometimes. We had a great relationship. It was just, I don't know if the fact that I expressed to them first that I wanted to come back may have hurt me a little bit, showing my hand if you will. But things happen for a reason. I'm a firm believer in that."
Saying “it all works out,” Ross signed with the D’backs, in a free-agent process that he called “a doozy.” The move allows him to play his home games near his Arizona home, with the team in the middle of a pennant race. He still follows the Sox, though. He’s happy when he hears from his former teammates that the toxic environment that permeated the clubhouse has now been cleared.
But, he was quick to point out that he “absolutely” had a little extra motivation to try to do well against his former team.