Ben Cherington, Bobby Valentine Praise Cody Ross’ Impact On and Off the Field

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BOSTON — Since the start of the offseason, the Red Sox targeted Cody Ross. But when Carl Crawford underwent arthroscopic wrist surgery, the urgency to sign the outfielder went from lukewarm to scorching hot.

Now that Ross — the 2010 NLCS MVP — has inked a one-year, $3 million deal with Boston, general manager Ben Cherington accomplished his goal of adding another right-handed bat to the Red Sox’s lineup.

“He’s always a guy that we had interest in back to when he was with the Marlins,” Cherington said at Monday’s Hot Stove Cool Music roundtable. “We think he’s a good fit for the park, a good fit on the team and the clubhouse, can play all three outfield positions.

“So he’s a guy we had targeted all along and certainly when Carl had the wrist procedure done. … Cody certainly gives us a little but more protection in the outfield in the event that Carl misses the first part of the season.”

Ross will need to adjust to the dimensions of Fenway’s outfield. During his first eight seasons in the majors, he played just three games in Boston. Fortunately for the team, Ross has started in all three outfield spots throughout his career.

Once Crawford returns, however, Ross’s experience could vault him into the full-time starting role in right field. Although Bobby Valentine declined to anoint him as such — with Ryan Sweeney still in the mix — the Red Sox manager praised Ross’ pedigree.

“He’s a guy who, if he stays healthy, it looks like a lot of his numbers translate pretty well,” Valentine said. “So I’ll just see how he can fit into the grouping and see what [position] he might be able to fit best in. I’ve seen him play every day and play well, as we all have in the late season and postseason.”

In addition to receiving accolades for his play on the field, Ross has developed a reputation as a strong clubhouse presence. When Cherington consulted Ross’ former teammates and coaches, they all offered glowing recommendations of the 31-year-old outfielder.

Those endorsements, along with the necessity to add outfield depth, were enough for Cherington to ultimately pull the trigger.

“We feel like Cody’s someone who really loves the game, loves to compete, had a real interest in coming to Boston,” Cherington said. “That’s something that appeals to us, people who want to be here. So we thought it was a good fit and then we ended getting a deal that worked for both sides. So it worked out.”

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