Portales-born Ross readies for MLB season

By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer

Portales to Miami by way of Carlsbad, Detroit, Los Angeles and Cincinnati. That’s the long route that Florida Marlins outfielder Cody Ross took to reach his sunny Major League Baseball destination.

Cody’s parents Kenny and Janet Ross lived with Kenny’s mom and dad in Portales in 1980 while Cody’s grandfather worked on the railroad in Clovis. The future Major Leaguer was born at Plains Medical Center in Portales in December of 1980 before moving to Big Springs, Texas and ultimately settling in Carlsbad.

“I’m really proud of Cody. He’s accomplished his dream. This is what he wanted to do since he was little. This is exactly what he wanted to do,” Kenny Ross said.
Like many Major Leaguers, Cody picked up a bat and ball early in life and never put them down.

“He started playing when he was 5 years old,” Kenny said. “He’s always been pretty special. We kind of knew he was special when he started — he was always head and shoulders above all the kids his age as far as talent goes … he just got better and better.”

The Ross’ only spent a short time in Portales and as Cody grew up, and became more interested in baseball, his father looked for a place where he could develop his skills on the diamond, and they found it in Carlsbad.

“When Cody was in the eighth grade we moved to Carlsbad,” Kenny said. “I moved to Carlsbad for two reasons, (one was) work but also they had a really good baseball program. Cody cameto this program and really excelled.”

Former Caveman Shane Andrews preceded Ross to the Major League’s as a first-round draft pick by the Montreal Expos. Andrews had a seven-year career in Major League Baseball and Cody’s dad thinks that helped put Carlsbad on the map with Major League Baseball scouts.

“Shane is actually the one that got the scouts coming to Carlsbad, but the baseball program in Carlsbad was so good that the scouts were coming and looking at the kids. Gosh, when Cody was a junior in high school, (the scouts) were all over then, there were 20 or 30 scouts at every game,” Kenny said.

In his three-year Major League Baseball career, Cody has been passed around from team to team. Ross was drafted one month after graduating high school by the Detroit Tigers in 1999. After an impressive Minor League run, the Tigers brought him up in the summer of 2003 where he played in six games before suffering a knee injury that held him out of the rest of the season.

When he was ready to come back, the Tigers traded Ross to the Dodgers organization. He only played in 22 games for the Dodgers but he made his mark, collecting seven RBI’s in one game with a grand slam and a three-run home run last season, but it seemed his Dodger Blue heroics only increased his trade value, and soon thereafter he was traded to Cincinnati where he only appeared in two games before finally being sent packing to the Marlins.

After seemingly finding a home in Miami and playing in 91 games last season with 11 home runs and 37 RBI’s, Cody’s stats this spring haven’t set him apart, but they fit in with the rest of the team. In 19 exhibition games for the Marlins this spring, Cody has hit just 0.91 with 14 strikeouts in 55 at-bats. The Marlins as a team, finished their grapefruit schedule this spring with the fewest runs scored and the lowest batting average in the Major Leagues.

“This whole spring was a little tough,” Cody’s mom Janet said. “Just because I know he was battling and going out there and facing other Minor Leaguers that are 22-years-old.”

Regardless of what Cody does in his professional baseball career—home runs and RBI’s in front of huge crowds is not what his dad is most proud of.

“I’ll tell you what I’m really proud of him for, more than anything is that he’s a really good person,” Ross said. “He hasn’t forgotten where he comes from, he comes back here and he goes and works out with the Cavemen every year before he leaves to go to spring training and he’s turned out to be a really good person and I’m really proud of him for that.”

Cody and the Marlins begin their 2007 campaign tomorrow afternoon at Washington.