In August 2010, Ross — then a member of the Marlins — received word that he'd been placed on waivers and abruptly snagged by the Giants. The transaction crushed Ross, who was popular in the clubhouse and wanted to stay in South Beach long-term.
With the Marlins, Ross evolved from obscurity as a journeyman into a consistent contributor. Needless to say, the outfielder was overwhelmed with a flurry of emotions, from sadness to frustration, upon his abrupt exit from South Beach.
"When it first happened it was an emotional time for me," Ross said. "I loved being in Florida. I loved everything about the Marlins and the organization. The front office was great and they gave me an opportunity to play. But I have to say I was a little bitter when I left, but for the right reasons because I wanted to stay there."
Now, 22 months since leaving, Ross will likely have a crack at his former club with the Red Sox. After missing the series last week in Miami with his foot injury, Ross is poised to return to action in Tuesday's home set against the Marlins.
But the change of scenery in 2010 ultimately benefitted Ross. Upon joining the Giants, the outfielder sparked the club in the postseason, clubbing five home runs and 10 RBIs to claim NLCS MVP honors and an eventual World Series championship.
Along the way, the unceremonious exit from Miami fueled Ross. He wanted to prove team owner Jeffrey Loria, president David Samson, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and general manager Mike Hill wrong for discharging him.
So these days, does Ross still feel any motivation to stick it to the Marlins?
"Maybe a little, but not too much," Ross said. "They shouldn't feel like I'm blasting them, they should feel honored that I wanted to stay there because I truly did. I would never say anything negative about them.
"For the Dodgers, when they let me go [in 2006], I wanted to prove that — little stuff like that, that kind of motivates you as a player. It's that 'I'm going to show you type of attitude.' It shouldn't be about that, it should be like you prove it to yourself… but at the same time you have to have little stuff to motivate you."
At the time of Ross' departure in 2010, then-Marlins reliever and current Red Sox teammate Andrew Miller was just recalled — once again — from Triple-A New Orleans. Despite shuttling in and out of minors, Miller always recognized Ross' impact in the Marlins clubhouse.
"For a real young team, he was definitely a leader in the clubhouse," Miller said. "He was the one everybody looked to. He did everything the right way and basically played himself into the lineup my first year there."
That's why Ross was so emotionally invested in the organization. After playing sparingly with the Tigers, Reds and Dodgers, he transformed into an everyday player for the Marlins, belting 80 homers and 297 RBIs in four-plus seasons.
Although those days are behind him, Ross maintains contact with Beinfest, Samson, Loria and Hill whenever they cross paths. Despite the heartbreaking end, the 31-year-old still admires the team — and the memories — from a distance.
"I would never say a bad thing about them because they're the only reason I'm here," Ross said. "I created a ton of friendships there that I not only cherished during my playing career, but a lifetime. They allowed me to go to San Francisco and win a World Series, so I owe them everything."
And Miami will always hold a special place in Ross' heart.