He would have loved to have been there if not for the “Dancing with the Stars” TV show that he’s done surprisingly well on. By now David Ross would have thought he’d be long gone in the dance competition, but he wound up being pretty good on his feet.
Ross played for both the Red Sox and Cubs, won championships with the 2013 “Boston Strong” Red Sox after the Boston Marathon bombings, and also helped break a 108-year-old championship drought with the Cubs last season. If he had been voted off the dance show, he would have been an ESPN analyst for Sunday’s Red Sox-Cubs game, offering his unique perspective on two teams for which he made major contributions.
“It kills me not to be there,” Ross said. “It was on my list. When I saw it on the schedule I said I’d like to make it to that Boston series and then retire. But I couldn’t. I’ve been so dang busy. This show is on another level. I told [former Cubs teammates] I’m thinking about them. I’ve sent out a bunch of texts to tell them I’m thinking about them.”
In spite of his busy dancing schedule, Ross, who will be an analyst on ESPN’s in-studio “Baseball Tonight” as well as games, indicated that he’s managed to keep track of both teams.
“I was rooting for [the Red Sox] last year because I wanted a Red Sox-Cubs World Series for me selfishly,” said Ross. “They were my pick this year. I thought they would do really well. They’re off to a slower start than I would have thought.
“I thought Chris Sale was a big pickup for them. I knew David [Ortiz] was going to be a big miss. You didn’t know how much of a miss he would be. When Hanley [Ramirez] gets hot he’s on fire, and he’s just not hot yet and they need that to happen.”
Ross said he tries not to rank the 2013 Red Sox and 2016 Cubs. He loved what both accomplished.
“The Boston one was the first step for me,” Ross said. “The things I took to Chicago, I learned from Boston. Winning a championship in Boston for me was the greatest thing that happened to me in my baseball career and I learned about what winning is and how to win.
“I saw how Ortiz and [Dustin] Pedroia and these guys were unselfish and they brought their lunch pail to work every day. It was not about tomorrow or the day before, it was about today. Those are the lessons I took to Chicago and was able to use to influence those guys.”
Ross remembers the surreal moment when the Red Sox were leaving for Cleveland after their morning game on Patriots Day.
“We had just gotten on the bus. I said goodbye to my family, who walked back to their apartment on Boylston [Street],” Ross recalled. “Guys were breaking out their phones. People were scattered around the area. There were no cops. Normally you’d have cops everywhere and escorts to the airport. The cops had scattered. You heard, ‘Did you guys see what happened?’ I couldn’t call my family because the cellphone service was out. It was intense. Everybody huddled around to find out the news and get ahold of their families. Pretty chaotic.
“It was too early to say what our identity was. But that was a big part of who we were as a team. From my experience, something that changed my life was visiting the hospitals when we got back. And seeing the victims of the bombings and talking to these people. And to see how excited they were to see the Boston Red Sox players and to see and talk to them — what it meant to them to sit in their hospital room and watch us play and root us on. When you’re on that field you were playing for more than yourself, your teammates, and the organization. You were playing for a group of people who needed something positive in their life.”
Ross’s life has changed dramatically since then. He won another championship. He wrote a book. He did a breakfast cereal commercial. He retired as a player and got a job with the Cubs as a special adviser. He got a job at ESPN as a baseball analyst.
When he walks through airports now he’s recognized for “Dancing with the Stars” rather than playing for the Cubs or Red Sox.
“I hear, ‘Mr. Ross, I love you on Dancing with the Stars.’ Or, ‘Mr. Ross, we loved your dance.’ I say, ‘What?’ I won two World Series people, in two of the biggest markets, and I’m talking about dancing!”
Ross remembers getting a call from his agent, who said the producer of the show wanted him to compete. Ross said he balked at first, but when he took part in a conference call with the show folks, he changed his mind.
“She just said things like, ‘We don’t take ourselves very seriously, it’s a ballroom dance show with celebrities trying to win a trophy.’ How serious can you take that? And that’s my approach in life. I don’t take myself very seriously when it comes to a lot of things, and also in 2016 I did some things out of my comfort zone being my last year.
“I wanted to show my kids that I could try something new and that I could fall flat on my face and make a fool of himself but he’s going to try and do my best.”
Ross said his body hurts from all the dancing, but he’s enjoyed it. Ross tapes the show in Hollywood and goes back to Tallahassee, Fla., with dance partner Lindsay Arnold so he can be with his kids, take them to school, and watch their baseball games. He returns to Los Angeles on Saturday.
There’s four more weeks left on the show and then Ross said he’s likely done with entertainment. After that, it will be all baseball.
“It’s all been great, but I wish I were in Boston right now,” Ross said.
DELAY OF GAME
Jeter, Bush need more investors
There have been no press conferences to announce Jeb Bush and Derek Jeter as the new ownership group of the Miami Marlins. While the Bush/Jeter group offered the highest bid ($1.3 billion), which Jeffrey Loria and David Samson accepted, it appears they don’t have financing in place.
There’s been a scramble, according to one major league source, to get money behind the bid. The Tagg Romney/Tom Glavine group is still alive as long as this process continues. There have been reports that Jeter and Bush have until June, and others that have the process coming to a head this week.
The Romney/Glavine group, according to one source, appeared to have all of its investors in place with its bid of $1.1 billion.
It would be interesting to see whether any of the Romney/Glavine investors peel off to join the Bush/Jeter group. One source indicated they didn’t think that would happen.
Marlins personnel are certainly on edge as they await their fate. Many of the team’s front-office officials have multiyear contracts that were negotiated with Loria last season.
Most new ownerships assess their management teams before making decisions. What either group will find with the Marlins is a competent and talented front office, starting with team president Michael Hill right down to the farm system and scouting departments, and a good manager in Don Mattingly.
The new Marlins ownership will have to do a better job of connecting with the business community. There’s plenty of potential there given the size of the market, but Loria and his business team were never able to maximize profits.
Apropos of nothing
1. Elite pitchers finish strong. Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t quite there yet. He tends to throw a lot of pitches late in his outings, which prevents him from going into the seventh inning. Orioles general manager Dan Duquette didn’t want to deal Rodriguez to the Red Sox for the very reason that’s unfolding. Rodriguez is the kind of talent that can come back to haunt you. Duquette made the deal because with the Orioles in the middle of a pennant race, it was his only way of getting a premier reliever. So he traded him to Boston, a division rival, for Andrew Miller. Scouts believe Rodriguez is not far from being capable of economizing his pitches and going deeper into games. When that times comes, E-Rod should be a No. 1 or 2 starter.
2. The biggest mistake made by the Blue Jays, according to one of their uniformed personnel, was not re-signing Edwin Encarnacion. While Encarnacion is off to a slow start in Cleveland, the Blue Jays miss him in the clubhouse, where he was a stabilizing force. And they miss him in the lineup, where he seemed to make everyone better around him. The Jays offered a four-year, $80 million deal. Encarnacion signed with the Indians for three years at $60 million.
3. Is it too early to say the Red Sox miss David Ortiz in a similar way to the Jays missing Encarnacion?
4. The late Jim Fregosi, who was a great scout, always warned about obtaining relievers after they’ve had good seasons, because they usually don’t repeat. There are plenty of examples that bear this out, including two in Boston, where Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg have had trouble staying healthy. As good as Craig Kimbrel has been, he had one of his worst statistical seasons last year for the Red Sox.
5. Did Pedro Martinez teach Luis Severino that changeup a little too well this offseason? Severino’s changeup was nasty against the Red Sox in Wednesday’s outing.
Updates on nine
1. Jacob Gonzalez, 1B, Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.) High School — The son of former Diamondbacks great Luis Gonzalez is rising up the draft boards of several teams, including the Indians and Braves. A powerful righthanded hitter, the 6-foot-4-inch, 205-pound Gonzalez has hit some monster shots this season. Although he’s committed to Texas Christian University, a higher draft slot could get him onto a professional roster.
2. J.A. Happ, LHP, Blue Jays — Teams have earmarked the Toronto pitching staff to raid if the struggling Jays decide to dismantle their team. The lefthanded Happ could be a prime target, as could Marco Estrada, who can become a free agent after the season. It appears the Jays would seek to rebuild their pitching staff around Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.
3. Jose Reyes, 3B, Mets — The Mets saw a little more life in Reyes’s bat last week and will likely stick with him at third base. The Mets have played some of their top infield prospects at different positions, which is why Amed Rosario, the team’s shortstop of the future, has played some third base. But the plan is to have Rosario play “75 percent of his time at shortstop and the other 25 percent at second and third,” according to one Mets official. The feeling is Rosario still needs development. Right now there are no plans to move current shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to third with Reyes on the upswing.
4. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals — If Moustakas’s good start takes him through June, you may see the Royals getting some offers for him. Of course, that all depends on whether the Royals right the ship. If they do, Moustakas is likely off the table. But there’s a need for third basemen, and he’d be a nice rental or someone who could fit in a team’s long-term plans.
5. Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Marlins — Given that the team is about to be sold, you wonder whether the new owners would want this enormous contract moved. The Marlins would likely have to pay some of the contract in a deal, but the question is who would assume the rest of Stanton’s contract? It may be the new ownership is stuck with this deal for a player who just hasn’t been the same since he was hit in the face with a pitch.
6. Javier Baez, INF, Cubs — There’s no denying his obvious talents. “When he learns to hit a curveball he’s going to be an everyday player and never look back,” according to an AL scout, who also thinks Baez needs to control his emotions.
7. Torey Lovullo, manager, Diamondbacks — He has been drawing rave reviews. Lovullo leans on Jerry Narron, his bench coach in the absence of Ron Gardenhire, who is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. Tony La Russa also has been a huge help.
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Blue Jays — The last two seasons have been pretty rough. Saltalamacchia has not been able to stay sharp as a hitter in a backup role and was designated for assignment on Friday. He could hook on with another major league team given his power potential, but the key for him seems to be consistent playing time so he can find a rhythm.
9. Ian Desmond, 1B, Rockies — He is close to returning from the DL, but because Mark Reynolds has been so hot at first base, the Rockies may start to work Desmond in the outfield. He played in the outfield for Texas last season. Desmond suffered a broken hand in mid-March and had to sit out most of spring training and April. The Rockies, already one of the best-hitting teams in baseball, should be even tougher with a healthy Desmond.
From the Bill Chuck files — “Jon Lester has a 3.68 ERA so far, double his ERA last April (1.83) when he had David Ross behind the plate.” . . . Happy birthday, Randy Kutcher (57).
Try, try again
After two undistinguished seasons with the Blue Jays and Mariners, first baseman-outfielder Eric Thames spent a year in the minors and then left for South Korea, where he hit 124 homers in three seasons for the NC Dinos. That earned Thames, now 30, a three-year contract with the Brewers, and he’s run with it, hitting a franchise-record 11 homers in April entering Friday. A few players who did their best work in the majors after fine-tuning their games in Japan or Korea: