On one of the coldest days of the year in Boston with the temperature barely rising above 15 degrees, Red Sox players left their warm homes in Arizona and Florida to tour Boston as part of a winter caravan in which they met Bostonians and New Englanders throughout the day.
“Oh man is it cold,” said catcher David Ross, from Tallahassee, Fla. “But a lot of fun. Never really got to see all of Boston the last time I was here, but it’s very enjoyable meeting all the people. Looking forward to spending time here.”
Ross, signed as a free-agent from the Atlanta Braves, appeared in eight games with the Red Sox in 2008 as part of the playoff run and played in one playoff game vs. the Los Angeles Angels.
He will be Boston’s back-up catcher but likely will play more than a usual backup because of his defensive prowess and his newly found offensive ability.
He toured Boston, first handing out Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and hot chocolate at Copley Plaza with fellow free-agent Jonny Gomes, and Sox players Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish.
Because of the cold weather, the players did not partake in the scheduled Freedom Trail part of the tour, nor were they able to take the Green Line because of a fire, though that was being rescheduled once the line was back in operation. But they did take a trolley to the Bunker Hill Monument and USS Constitution and also visited Faneuil Hall.
Ross is looking forward to working with the Sox pitching staff after working so well with the Braves staff, considered one of the best in baseball.
“I think we have some outstanding pitchers,” Ross said. “I know our team viewed Jon Lester as one of the best lefties in the game. There weren’t too many guys looking forward to facing him.”
Gomes said he first came to Boston in 2003 but had never been able to see the city in this way. He too will have a platoon role with a power righthanded bat that could fit well at Fenway.
“I’m not sure anyone should really know what our roles are going to be at this point,” Gomes said. “I’ve been working out, ready to play 162. I think you make your playing time based on your production. I’m a team player so if someone else has the hot hand, go with it. I’m here to win ballgames. That’s all that matters to me and I think we have an excellent team.”
Gomes and Nava worked out with Jacoby Ellsbury at Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona this winter.
“I’ve been working with Jacoby the last six years,” Gomes said. “We’re all very excited about this season. We think we have a good team.”
Nava said he has not been approached by the team about playing first base. The Sox have been looking for a first baseman/outfielder. Nava, a switch-hitter, said he last played first base at junior college and took ground balls there during infield practice. He said he would welcome the opportunity.
“The biggest thing I tried to do was improve the right side,” Nava said. “As a switch-hitter, I wasn’t happy with my production righthanded.”
Nava, 29, who was married this winter, may have been Boston’s best outfielder last season and indeed showed the most accurate arm from the outfield.
“I think it was a year of adjustments,” Nava said. “I got to play and show what I could do, but I have to keep getting better at everything.”