-- Cody Ross arrived at the O.co Coliseum just before 4 p.m. Wednesday and went around the A’s clubhouse saying hello to his 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’s to the list of uniforms he has worn after the A’s signed him Wednesday to deepen their injury-bitten outfield. He’ll have a chance to contribute right away: He’s in the starting lineup for his A’s debut, batting second and playing right field.
Manager Bob Melvin said he plans to use Ross primarily against left-handed pitching and in the corner outfield spots. That figures to continue even after Josh Reddick returns from his oblique injury on Saturday. Ross could still start in left field against lefties with Craig Gentry in center and Sam Fuld on the bench.
"We feel like he can increase the outfield depth, certainly give us quite a bit of help against left-handed pitching," Melvin said. "He’s got some power, he’s got some experience. I know he’s really excited about being here."
Ross confirmed as much talking to reporters after batting practice. After Arizona released him shortly before the season started, Ross said the A’s reached out almost immediately and, while he had interest from other teams, 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," Ross said. "That’s a credit to Bob and the coaching staff and the front office, putting together a group of guys like that, and that’s the kind of team I want to play on."
Ross said he formed a favorable opinion of the A’s watching them from afar in recent seasons, and he also talked with new Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale -- the former A’s bench coach -- who raved about Melvin. In turn, Melvin said he asked Hale about Ross. "(Hale) said he had a good spring for them," Melvin said.
The Diamondbacks released Ross -- and, in doing so, ate his $8.5 million salary this year -- to make room for some younger outfield prospects. Ross spent the last two seasons in Arizona and struggled to stay on the field; he dislocated his hip in the second half of 2013 and said he probably tried to come back too early last season, when the hip continued to bother him.
Now, though, Ross said he feels "great physically. As good as I’ve felt in a long time." He played back-to-back games in spring training without a problem. Melvin added that the fact Ross will play almost exclusively against left-handers should help Ross manage any health issues.
Ross said he’s open to the platoon role: "Whatever role (Melvin) decides to put me in, I told him that I’ll be ready to go no matter what. I told him I just want to win again. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a winning team and I miss that feeling."
Asked whether he was surprised by the way his time in Arizona ended, Ross was candid.
"Definitely, it caught me off-guard. I was definitely blindsided, and you know, obviously upset and had some bitter feelings," he said. "But you sit back and look at the way the roster was sort of made up, what they’re trying to do, and it just wasn’t a fit. To be honest with you, I don’t want to be in a rebuilding sort of team. I love all those guys over there, I wish them nothing but the best, but I think my aspirations were a little higher and it was sort of a blessing.
"I had a great time in Arizona and loved all my teammates, my coaching staff, the front office. Everybody was great. I didn’t hold up to my end of the bargain. Injuries sort of played a role in that, but I flat-out didn’t perform. And that’s what happens. So I move on and I become a better person because of it."
* As stated, it’s Ross in the No. 2 spot with Melvin saying he wanted to get Ross near the top against Rangers left-hander Ross Detwiler. The full A’s lineup also includes Mark Canha and Tyler Ladendorf, both making their major-league debuts, and Josh Phegley making his A’s debut:
And the Rangers’ lineup against A’s left-hander Scott Kazmir:
* Canha, the San Jose native and graduate of Bellarmine Prep, said he wasn’t expecting as big a rooting section Wednesday night as for the season opener. But his wife, parents and possibly his brother and sister will be on hand for his first big-league start.
"Little nervous," Canha said. "Little butterflies. We’ll see what happens."
Canha said he had a lot of people reaching out Wednesday with texts and on social media to congratulate him. He was excited as well for Ladendorf -- the 27-year-old who actually has the most service time in the A’s organization of anybody on the roster -- who is Canha’s warm-up partner.
"When we got here today we kind of bumped fists and said, ‘Let’s go,’" Canha said.
* To clear a roster spot for Canha, the A’s optioned Billy Burns to Triple-A Nashville. Burns took the move well, saying it actually seemed like Melvin was "more upset" by having to deliver the news than Burns was having to hear it.
Burns made a significant impression with his spring -- he led the majors in hits for much of it and finished with 31 -- and said he built valuable confidence by breaking camp with the team. Melvin said that was the crux of his conversation with Burns.
"My chat with him was all about, he made the team out of spring training, which is a feather in your cap," Melvin said. "He should hang his hat on that."
Burns was likely headed out anyway when Reddick returned. The A’s also Wednesday designated outfielder Alex Hassan for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Ross.
* Melvin said he also got in touch with Hale to congratulate Hale on his first win as a big-league manager after the Diamondbacks beat the Giants on Tuesday night.
"I know he was happy about it," Melvin said. "That first win’s awfully nice to get. So, to many more for him -- except when he plays us."