The acquisition of David Ross as a back up to Jarrod Saltalamacchia bodes well and it feels like it might be of singular importance to the health and well-being of our somewhat manhandled Red Sox. The Red Sox owe their success in the first decade of the century to several things, but none more important than the input of the dour, private, immensely professional Jason Varitek. Having weathered injury, unwanted and unfair press attention and very rarely being shown with a real smile, this guy was all business. He is the only major league catcher to catch four no hitters for four different pitchers. Pretty elite company, wouldn’t you say?
But I do not come to lionize Mr. Varitek’s accomplishments any further, except to say, 2004 and 2007 would not have been possible without him. Smashing A-Rod’s face didn’t hurt either, I come to humbly suggest a successor to Jason Varitek in the personam of one David Ross. He might not have Varitek’s pedigree of Little League, College and THE World Series appearances, but I do see an intensity, a true intellectual student of pitchers, pitches, pitch counts, ball placement and the myriad of things that make a great catcher. The fact that he can do a little hitting as well doesn’t do him harm; but make no mistake about it, he is a Mensan among catchers and as he nears the end of his active playing years his wealth of knowledge will be likened to a national treasure.
Sounds like a well-needed clone on the way up, but wait – he also has a vibrant contagious sense of humor and personality. Unlike Varitek, who gave the outward aura of a brooding genius, Ross acts like he is actually having fun. This is not to lessen the importance of Jarrod Saltalamalacchia; to the contrary. Salty is our main man, but Ross is the new boy in town (albeit 35 isn’t exactly new in Major League Baseball). Manager John Farrell is still unsure of where Ross fits in, but Farrell knows Ross is an asset and will fit in.
“The one thing we knew going into this year is that David is more capable than just a traditional backup catcher where it’s just 35 or 40 games,” Farrell said. “He’s an encouraging catcher — encouraging from the standpoint of encouraging the pitcher. Just talking to guys who have thrown to him, there’s been such positive feedback on the interactions they’ve had after throwing a bullpen [session] or while throwing a bullpen [session] just on David’s comments in between pitches.” From one of the best pitching coaches in the business, that’s heady stuff.
His personality and baseball IQ will go far in the organization if the triumvirate in the front office doesn’t sell him to get more headsets. Varitek is one of a kind and we, the Red Sox, were blessed and are being blessed by his presence; and maybe, with Pedro Martinez‘s antics, he may do stand up before it’s all said and done; and while Ross is not nor does he want to be another Kevin Millar, he has that mixture that only the alchemy of baseball can create. He knows what he can do and let’s let him do it.