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Cody Ross' 2013 season came to an abrupt and unfortunate end when he dislocated his hip running out a ground ball during an Aug. 11 game against the New York Mets.

He finished the year with a .278 average, eight home runs and 38 RBI.

The veteran's role with the team going forward is a bit of a tricky proposition, especially since the D-backs traded for Mark Trumbo, who is expected to be in left field while A.J. Pollock is likely penciled into center.

That leaves Ross battling with Gold Glove winner Gerardo Parra for time in right, and an injury could put him a bit behind in whatever race there may be.

But according to D-backs skipper Kirk Gibson, it's possible Ross will return sooner than many people think.

"Cody's doing well," he told the Burns and Gambo Show Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "Optimistically, let's say he'll be ready for the regular season, the start of the regular season."

However, Gibson admitted that an Opening Day return may be "a bit of a stretch," and that the team does not want to rush him back at the expense of allowing him to fully recover.

It was a problem the team had last year with Ross, albeit with a different injury.

"I think the one thing we don't want to do with him is get him so close and then try to cut that last corner," Gibson said. "If you remember last year, he had kind of a strained calf I think it was, he went into the season, he was way behind everybody, then he came back early and got hurt again, then he ended up having the bad hip injury."

So, Gibson said, even though Ross may be close to ready, he will not be in the lineup until there is no doubt of where his health is.

"That's four very, very good outfielders we've got out there," he said. "That's a very good situation to be in."

Adam Green, Web Content Editor - ArizonaSports.com

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