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Toucher & Rich: David Ross Explains How Catchers Are Like Psychiatrists For Pitchers

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Catcher David Ross (L) of the Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Catcher David Ross (L) of the Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) - Red Sox catcher David Ross joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show Thursday morning, as he’ll do throughout the baseball season as a regular guest of the program.

There was some confusion Wednesday night surrounding the postponement of the Red Sox-Rays game at Fenway Park. Media members rolled into the ball park around 3pm and got the sense from team employees that the game would be cancelled. It was, then it was announced, but the Rays were unwilling to acquiesce at first.

Ross gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the cancellation and the decision to have the doubleheader Thursday:

“It’s one of those things where it’s kind of a technicality with our union. If something comes up where things don’t really work out, we’re allowed to vote on that stuff. We kind of bounced around the ideas — I don’t think they wanted to play. I’m not sure of their reasons. For one, it’s freezing cold outside and I don’t think they’re really used to that weather [in Tampa], and I think they’re a little undermanned right now with a few of their main pitchers on the DL.

“It may benefit them to wait a little bit and play it again on a mutual off day in I think August or September. … I think it’s gonna work out a little better doing [a doubleheader] for all involved. You never know. It’s a long season so we may need that off day for another rain out,” said Ross.

The Red Sox have won eight games in their last 13 outings, and it’s evident for all to see that they’re playing with a certain level of confidence and swagger that hasn’t been seen since last year’s World Series run.

Ross says you can credit the team’s improved play to Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks returning from the disabled list.

“We haven’t been clicking on all cylinders early on and [Victorino] is one of the main reasons for that. He’s such a big part of our lineup. He gives us that baserunning dynamic. He makes our lineup a lot deeper, and having Will Middlebrooks back too. There’s some right handed power there we really didn’t have when he was out other than Mike Napoli. We’re getting back and things are starting to click better.”

Another reason for the improved play that’s been given is the team meeting put on by manager John Farrell after a series of games riddled with errors, but Ross says those things are not out of the ordinary.

“We have a team meeting to open up every series. It wasn’t like we called a meeting out of nowhere. It’s just kind of a refresher of how they like to run their bunt defenses, what to look out for, if the scouts have picked up on any of their weaknesses we can take advantage of or exploit. At the end of that meeting [Farrell] just said, ‘Hey guys keep working. It’s a long season’ — the little things.”

On those errors, including a five-error game against the rival Yankees, shortstop Xander Bogaerts has certainly endured his fair share of ups and downs in his rookie season.

Making the adjustment from the minor leagues to the majors “is a process” according to Ross, and it takes some players longer to adjust than others. For him personally, being in the big leagues is still something he’s getting used to.

“I’m still learning to be a major leaguer and I’m twelve years in,” joked the 37-year-old.

Another player still adjusting, albeit with far more experience than Xander Bogaerts, is pitcher Felix Doubront. Doubront dazzles at times and goes through stretches of ace-like performances, like that run of games last season in June and July having a sub 3.00 ERA before tapering off in August and September.

Ross said Doubront “can be his own worst enemy sometimes” and that when things snowball during the course of the game “he has a tough time reining it in.”

Ross also added, “[Doubront] understands it’s time to turn that corner and be a more consistent pitcher. He wants to do that. We want him to do that. He’s definitely got some good stuff. He can dominate a lineup. Batters have a tough time picking up his fastball when he’s locating. We need Felix to pitch well. We have a good staff and for him to be one of our back end guys we really need him to pitch well if we plan on doing some good things this year.”

When things are starting to snowball on a pitcher, as they have with Doubront numerous times recently, part of the job of being a catcher is having the ability to calm a guy down, and be a psychiatrist so to speak.

Ross explained what that dynamic is like:

“I think it’s just a feel thing. Experience helps me out a lot. Being around for a bit and being on a bunch of different teams I’ve gotten to see a bunch of different situations, staffs and get to know a bunch of guys. It’s just knowing your pitcher and what makes him tick. I pay attention to their bullpen sessions of what adjustments their pitching coach has them make and try to log that stuff in my brain.

“Damage control, especially in the AL East, is priority number one when you’re catching. It’s all about damage control, knowing the situation and not letting things go crazy.”

Listen below for the full interview, where you’ll hear about mother driving across state lines to give birth because it’s cheaper — that, and much more:

David Ross Interview

Toucher & Rich

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