PHOENIX – Cody Ross was supposed to join the Giants’ cavalcade of television analysts this season. But a baseball uniform still fits him better than a suit.
Ross is taking on a larger role with Bruce Bochy’s staff this season, and while he won’t be on every trip, his input will be valued amid a group that lacks experience positioning and coaching outfielders.
Giants first base coach Jose Alguacil is responsible for positioning outfielders during games – duties that once fell on former third base coach Roberto Kelly. Even as Kelly made questionable decisions to send or hold runners, and signs got missed on his watch, he drew consistent raves for his work with the outfielders. Alguacil, for all his baseball acumen, was an infielder during his minor league playing days.
Ross won’t be in uniform for games, but he’ll help Alguacil in the hours prior to the first pitch while also working with Giants outfielders in batting practice.
Of course, it helps that Ross is the kind of person everyone in the clubhouse wants to keep around.
“He’s great. He’s got a lot of life to him, always smiling,” Bochy said. “He’s also a hard worker, and this staff, what we don’t have is an outfielder, which is what he is. He’ll be around.”
Ross is enjoying his time in uniform, and the fact a few of his former Giants teammates are still here makes it even better. He cued up video of Madison Bumgarner’s home run swing from Sunday’s game and drew a small crowd of players as they delved into a deep and comical review of how the pitcher awkwardly releases his bat at the end of his swing.
“It’s like he doesn’t know how to let it go,” Ross said.
Maybe he doesn’t want to be accused of flipping it? Now that would be a pots and kettles situation.
“That’s what I’m here to teach him,” Ross said, smiling.
The Dodgers were abysmal against left-handed pitching last year, and the trend continued on Tuesday when they were shut out by Padres lefty Clayton Richard.
The question for Bochy, then: Will he juggle his rotation to make sure Bumgarner and Matt Moore appear as often as possible against the Dodgers, beginning with the first meeting between the clubs April 24-27 at AT&T Park?
Bochy offered a measured response, saying there are times he would tweak his rotation to get matchups but also valued keeping starting pitchers on their routine.
The more interesting answer was in response to a follow-up question: would he swap out Matt Cain for left-hander Ty Blach against the Dodgers?
“Sure, we’ve discussed that,” Bochy said.
It will depend in part on how Cain pitches in these first few starts. As the rotation is currently plotted out and if the Giants don’t skip anyone, Cain would pitch the first game of that four-game home series against the Dodgers. If they replace him with Blach, they could throw three left-handers against the Dodgers in the series.
But, as Bochy cautioned, “We’re a long way from that.”
The Giants finalized their minor league deal with Drew Stubbs. The 32-year-old center fielder will make a prorated salary of $130,000 when in the minors and $1 million when in the majors, with the opportunity to make an additional $300,000 in performance bonuses. Stubbs will report to extended spring training before joining Triple-A Sacramento.