Sunday, May 21, 2006
Ross in need of a role with Reds
He wants chance to prove himself
By Brian Bennett
The transaction line caused a double-take: Cody Ross sent to Louisville on a 20-game rehab assignment for a bruised left pinkie. Twenty days to heal a pinkie?
While it's true that Ross was hit by a pitch on the finger in his only at-bat with Cincinnati, the Reds also are using the rehab assignment for extra time to figure out what to do with the outfielder. Ross is used to being in limbo.
The 25-year-old has had some big years in Triple-A, hitting 22 homers for Las Vegas last season and 20 at Toledo in 2003, but has rarely appeared in the major leagues.
"I've never gotten that opportunity to play every day," he said. "It seems like I always get about 20 at-bats, and then they're like, 'OK, we've got to do something.' I never had like 100 at-bats to see what I can do."
Ross figured he was odd man out in the Los Angeles Dodgers' camp this spring. But an injury to Kenny Lofton helped him make the opening day roster, and he had one of the best days any big leaguer has enjoyed this season. On April 13, he hit two home runs and had seven RBIs against Pittsburgh.
But four days later, after Lofton returned from the disabled list, the Dodgers designated Ross for assignment. The Reds grabbed him for a player to be named later, although they didn't exactly have a role for him.
"I talked to (Cincinnati manager) Jerry Narron about it, and he said he doesn't even know," Ross said. "I'll just go out there when they call my name and do whatever they tell me to do."
Ross hit .308 with three home runs in his first 12 games with Louisville. His rehab assignment will expire May 28; because he is out of options, the Reds will have to either bring him up or put him on waivers. With Ken Griffey Jr., Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn entrenched, there doesn't appear to be much room for him to play in Cincinnati, either.
"That always weighs on my mind," he said. "But I wouldn't expect them to just throw me into an everyday role. You have to earn it. Hopefully I can perform whenever I get that chance."