SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — After an exhausting recovery from an injury that could have been career-ending, Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross feels like he’s finally back on track.
“I feel great,” Ross said. “I’m mentally tougher and stronger. Physically, I feel better than I have in years.”
Last year was a struggle for Ross, who was recovering from a severe hip injury suffered in 2013. Doctors told him there was a good chance he’d never play baseball again. Ross defied the odds and made a full recovery, but struggled last season, batting .252 with only two home runs, his lowest career mark since he became a full-time player in 2006.
“I had a tough one last year,” Ross said. “I just want to get back to the player I was.”
The 11-year veteran has long been a mentor to the team’s outfielders, but now he’s starting to produce on the field as well. He’s hitting at a cool .296 clip with three RBI in 11 spring training games. D-backs manager Chip Hale stressed the importance of Ross’ success.
“His bat is really important to us,” Hale said. “He’s playing with a lot of energy. His body seems to have responded with an offseason of working out.”
The outfielder has been in Arizona since 2013 and served as a leader and a mentor in the clubhouse.
“It’s a huge impact because he’s been there, done that,” Hale said. “That’s important to have in the clubhouse.”
Young up-and-comers like A.J. Pollock hold Ross in high regard.
“His leadership is the biggest thing for me,” Pollock said. “He has a good feel for the clubhouse, good feel for his teammates. I really, really enjoy playing with him.”
Ross, who has 132 career home runs, is best known for his performance in the 2010 National League Championship Series, during which he won the NLCS Most Valuable Player with a .350 batting average and three homers.
Players on the team are well aware of Ross’ past heroics.
“I just remember watching him,” Pollock said. “Watching him elevate his game and just being really impressed with a guy who basically carried that team throughout the playoffs.”
It’s been a bounce-back spring for the veteran, and he’s hoping this will be a bounce-back season.
“My goal every year is to do better than the last,” Ross said. “I want to throw last year out the door. I look forward to going out there this season and contributing.”
Trey Lanthier is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between ArizonaSports.com and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.