Cody Ross was overlooked.
An outfielder for the Las Vegas 51s during the 2004 and ’05 seasons, the power-hitting Ross went from one of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top prospects to a player who was constantly skipped over for a chance to stick in the major leagues.
Ross doesn’t have that problem anymore.
After finally breaking through with the Florida Marlins in 2007 as a full-time big leaguer, Ross enjoyed his best month of baseball last October in helping the San Francisco Giants win the World Series.
In the National League Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Ross belted three home runs in being named the series’ Most Valuable Player and surely erasing memories of those long summer nights trying to earn his kept in Las Vegas.
Ross, who signed a one-year, $6.3 million contract with the Giants in the offseason, returned to Cashman Field Monday as part of a rehab assignment. The 30-year-old hasn’t played this year after injuring his right calf in spring training.
Even though Ross is a proven everyday big leaguer, he still operates under the mentality that he has something to prove. He enjoyed his two years in Las Vegas, but calls them some of the most difficult of his career.
“This game is so tough to get to the big leagues and establish yourself as a player,” said Ross, who should return to the Giants by the weekend.
“I kind of got lost in the shuffle. It was a tough pill to swallow for me,” he continued. “I was lost in Triple-A for two years. I had a blast here. It is a great place to play and a great city. But nobody wants to be here for two years.”
Ross, like he did in the playoffs for the Giants, could always hit for power. He led the 51s with 22 home runs in 2005, batting .267 in 115 games with 63 RBIs. In 2004, he batted .273 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs in 60 games.
After bouncing around from the Detroit Tigers, Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds organizations, Ross made the most of his opportunity with the Marlins. In four and a half seasons, he batted .275 with 80 home runs and 297 RBIs.
But the Marlins put him on waivers last August to clear space for their younger players, and the Giants snatched Ross up. The rest is history.
“With the Marlins, I never had the opportunity to play down the stretch in September,” Ross said. “To play with a team that was a real contender was something I was looking forward to.”
Ross hit two home runs off Roy Halladay in the first game of the championship series, and then homered off Roy Oswalt in the second game. He hit .350 with three home runs, three doubles, five RBIs to be named the series MVP.
In the division series against the Atlanta Braves, Ross started all four games in right field, hit a home run to tie the deciding fourth game and knocked in the winning runs in two of the Giants’ three wins.
He’s counting the days until he can return to the Giants’ lineup. He was already with the team last week when it received World Series rings.
“We couldn’t wait for Opening Day to see the (championship) flags raised and get those rings,” Ross said. “What a special day. The Giants put on a great ceremony for us.”