Boston Red Sox catcher David Ross will be 38 years old on Opening Day next season. He also plans to be in uniform.
Ross told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford over the weekend that he wants to play “at least one more year” before retiring. It’s unclear at this point whether Ross will suit up for the Red Sox in 2015 — his contract expires after this season — but the veteran backstop is reaching an interesting stage in his lengthy career.
“It’s getting to a point where my kids are at an age where they miss Dad,” Ross told Bradford before Saturday’s game in Anaheim. “It’s harder to leave. It’s not so much the game, but more the off-the-field stuff. I still love the game. I love competing. I love being in the clubhouse around the guys. I love playing. But my whole thing is the off-the-field stuff. My kids get to the age where they really miss Dad. Being a father is important.”
Ross, one of the classiest and most well-spoken individuals in Major League Baseball, signed a two-year, $6.2 million contract before the 2013 season to become Boston’s backup catcher. He has battled injuries over the last two seasons — he’s currently on the 15-day disabled list after rupturing his plantar fascia — but has thrived as a clubhouse leader and mentor, with Red Sox manager John Farrell even noting several times that it’s like having an additional coach.
Ross has fully embraced a backup catcher role since 2008, when he actually played eight games with the Red Sox down the stretch after being released by the Cincinnati Reds. He spent four seasons as Brian McCann’s backup in Atlanta before arriving in Boston in time for the club’s incredible 2013 World Series campaign.
“I had so much fun last year when we were winning. I would like to try and do that again. That was like a band of brothers that I’ll have for life,” Ross told Bradford. “I’ve had such good experiences in baseball the last five or six years of my baseball career when I became a true back-up and played on winning teams. I want to do that again. It’s easier to say it’s getting hard and I want to play one or two more years because of the family, but when that time comes, it’s going to be hard to walk away. It may be easier to say that it is to actually do.”
Ross has been limited to 76 games over the last two seasons because of his ailments. The Red Sox hold the 13-year veteran in such high regard, however, that it’s easy to envision a scenario in which the organization brings him back for 2015, especially with rookie catcher Christian Vazquez just beginning his major league career and top catching prospect Blake Swihart continuing his ascent through the system.
According to Ross, the sides haven’t yet discussed a contract extension. But the 37-year-old isn’t sweating the situation right now.
“If my agent calls and they say they don’t know then I might be in a bad mood. I don’t want to work in a bad mood or be mad at them,” Ross told Bradford. “If they want me back, they’ll come to me, and if not, there’s no hard feelings. I love this place. The Red Sox are going to be part of my life for the rest of my life. This is a special place for me. But I try and stay out of that stuff.”
Ross is buying in for at least one more year. Let’s see what hand he’s dealt.