The Red Sox made a number of key transactions prior to the 2013 season. Shane Victornio, Ryan Dempster, and Joel Hanrahan were among the high profile off-season signings. The most underrated sign however was journeymen catcher David Ross.
Many didn’t expect a player that had been with six different teams to be an integral part of the 2013 Red Sox, but Ross was. It has been a long journey for the 13-year veteran.
The Los Angeles Dodgers selected Ross in the 7th round of the 1998 amateur draft out of the University of Florida. He signed and made his major league debut on June 28, 2002. He was with the Dodgers’ organization until 2004.
In 2005, he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Diego Padres. He would only play in a combined 51 games for both teams.
Ross’ big break came in 2006 when was traded from the Padres, to the Cincinnati Reds. In 90 games, Ross would hit .255 with 21 home runs and 52 RBIs. He was the Reds starting catcher until he was designated for assignment in 2008. The Red Sox later signed him to a minor-league contract for the rest of the 2008 season.
From 2009-2012, Ross was the backup catcher for the Atlanta Braves. He often played when the Braves wanted more of a defensive catcher behind the plate.
Ross signed a two-year, $6.2 million deal to return to the Red Sox in 2013. He had previously played for the club back in 2008.
Ross missed 65 games for the Red Sox during the 2013 regular season because he suffered two concussions throughout the season. Some thought he would never play again, but Ross would return just in time for Boston’s Championship run.
Red Sox Manager John Farrell benched starting catcher Jerrod Saltalamacchia after Boston lost games two and three of the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals. Saltalamacchia made key errors in both losses and was struggling at the plate as he struck out 19 times in 32 postseason at-bats.
Ross started the rest of the series and was a veteran presence behind the plate. He was an offensive factor in the World Series as well. In Game five, he had two hits and drove in the go-ahead run to win the game 3-1.
Ross is a career .237 hitter, but you can’t measure the importance of what Ross does behind the plate in statistics. The defense, leadership and his veteran presence are intangibles you won’t find on any stat sheet. It’s a good thing the Red Sox know how valuable Ross is to their team.