When Cody Ross takes the field in an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform this season, he will do so for the seventh different team in a career that dates back nearly a decade.
While Ross had a brief cup of coffee (2003-2006) with the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds it wasn't until he landed in Florida that he had an opportunity to play every day.
But even as Ross became a flexible option in the Marlins' outfield, the New Mexico native became expendable in 2010 and was shipped off to the San Francisco Giants.
Ross quickly made a name for himself on a national stage with an impressive postseason at the plate, specifically the National Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, when he batted .350 with three home runs and five RBI. Although he would play an integral role in helping the Giants claim their first World Series title in 49 years, Ross was not re-signed after a down year in 2011.
Last season, Ross had one of the best campaigns of his career (22 home runs and 81 RBI) with the Boston Red Sox, but after the team finished in basement of the AL East, Ben Cherrington and Co. attempted to clean house and made little effort to commit long-term to Ross.
Enter Kevin Towers and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
While the team already had several outfielders (Gerardo Parra, Jason Kubel and Justin Upton) under contract and two other prospects (Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock) waiting for the chance to play every day, Towers decided the D-backs could use a team-first guy like Ross and signed him in December to the largest free agency contract (three-year deal worth $24 million) given out by the organization since 2004.
"I couldn't be more excited right now to be able to play where I live," Ross told Arizona Sports 620's Hot Stove Show Monday. "To be a part of a team that is committed to winning was important to me, especially with them being just one year removed from winning the NL West."
As a member of the division from 2010-2011, Ross knows that Arizona has plenty of pieces to be competitive in the coming years.
"They kicked our butts as we came off a World Series in 2011," said Ross. "They had some adversity last year having the pressure to repeat that."
Realizing he was now a member of the team he use to consider a division rival, Ross quickly changed pronouns.
"We're not going to sneak up on people," said Ross. But, we're not the favorites like last year. It's really exciting opportunity."
While Arizona shares the division with the defending World Series champion Giants and the suddenly win-at-all-costs Los Angeles Dodgers, Ross admits that with the additions of veterans like himself, Eric Hinske and Eric Chavez, team chemistry could go a long way towards bringing fall baseball back to the Valley.
"I've been going up to the field the last couple of weeks since I've signed, and we're all getting along and it's getting fun," said Ross. "The guys are coming in slowly, and it's a great group, everybody sort of realizes where we are at, where we need to be and where we want to go."
Ross will certainly be expected to be a run producer in Kirk Gibson's lineup, as well as a reliable asset at any of the three outfield positions. But for the well-traveled veteran, all he's concerned about these days is living up to the commitment the D-backs' front office made to him.
Whether it's pushing teammates through the dog days of spring training or doing the little things necessary to help the team win during the season, Ross said he wants to win, and he wants to do it with the D-backs.
"The fact that the Diamondbacks were willing to commit to me was huge, some other teams that were really close, but this made the most sense for me and my family," said Ross. "I just liked the direction of this team and it can't get any sweeter than this.
"They've committed to me, now I am committed to them."