Cody Ross arrived at O.co Coliseum just before 4 p.m. Wednesday and went around the A’s clubhouse saying hello to new teammates. Many of them the veteran outfielder already knew – but he was having trouble remembering whether any had been his teammate at one of his seven previous major-league stops.
“This would be a new record for me if not,” Ross said, grinning. “I’m like the Kevin Bacon of baseball.”
Ross, 34, can add Oakland to the list of uniforms he has worn after the A’s signed him Wednesday to deepen their injury-bitten outfield. Hours after touching down in Oakland, Ross was in the starting lineup, batting second and playing right field, as the A’s rapped out 14 hits in a 10-0 win over the Texas Rangers.
Ross collected his first hit for the A’s with an RBI single in a five-run third inning. It was a good inning for A’s players making debuts: Second baseman Tyler Ladendorf hit an RBI triple in his first major-league at-bat and first baseman Mark Canha, also making his big-league debut, hit a three-run double off the top of the wall in right-center.
Canha, a San Jose native who attended Cal, added a single in the fifth inning and an RBI double in the sixth, joining Ben Grieve as the only A’s players since 1914 with four or more RBIs in their MLB debuts.
A’s left-hander Scott Kazmir struck out 10 batters in seven innings and allowed only one hit.
It was only the fifth start Ross has made in the No. 2 lineup spot, but A’s manager Bob Melvin said he wanted Ross near the top against Rangers’ left-handed starter, Ross Detwiler. That figures to remain Ross’ role even after right fielder Josh Reddick returns from an oblique strain Saturday – Melvin said he plans to use Ross against left-handed pitching at either of the corner outfield spots.
“He can hit left-handed pitching, he’s got some power (and) some experience,” Melvin said of Ross, who entered his 12th season with a career .294 average against left-handed pitching. “I know he’s really excited about being here. A lot of times, with guys a little bit later in their career, it’s all about winning for them. I know that’s the case for him.”
Ross confirmed as much in talking to reporters. After the Arizona Diamondbacks released him April 4, Ross said the A’s – who are also missing Coco Crisp likely for the first six to eight weeks of the season – reached out immediately. He had interest from other teams but said he saw Oakland as “the best fit.”
“It’s just a team that has a lot of passion, plays the game the right way, plays hard, does all the little things right,” said Ross, who formed his favorable opinion of the A’s watching them in recent seasons. “That’s the kind of team I want to play on.”
Ross said he was also eager to rejoin a contender. He won a World Series ring in 2010 with the Giants – when he was named MVP of the National League Championship Series – but has not returned to the playoffs since. For that chance, he said, he was open to the platoon role he will have in Oakland.
“I told (Melvin) that I’ll be ready to go, no matter what,” Ross said. “I told him I just want to win again … I miss that feeling.”
The past two seasons have been frustrating for Ross, who struggled to stay on the field in Arizona. He dislocated his hip late in the 2013 season and said he probably tried to come back too early last season. The hip continued to bother him, and he hit just .252 with two home runs in 219 plate appearances over 83 games.
Ross said this spring he felt “great physically, as good as I’ve felt in a long time.” But he fell out of favor with the Diamondbacks, who ultimately released him.
Asked if he was surprised by how his time in Arizona ended, Ross was candid, saying he was “definitely blindsided … and had some bitter feelings.
“To be honest with you, I don’t want to be in a rebuilding sort of team,” Ross said. “I love all those guys over there, I wish them nothing but the best. But I think my aspirations are a little higher, and it was sort of a blessing.”