Cody Ross returning to scene of NLCS heroics

set tone for Giants' upset with 2 HRs in Game 1.ASSOCIATED PRESS
set tone for Giants' upset with 2 HRs in Game 1.ASSOCIATED PRESS (Cody Ross)
Posted: July 26, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO - Shortly after being scooped up by the Giants last summer, outfielder Cody Ross instantly took a liking to some of San Francisco's exotic French delicacies.

"I got hooked on Foie gras," he says. "I ate so much of it I made myself sick."

He eventually swore off the controversial culinary concoction when he learned how the gourmet goose liver was actually made: starting with force-feeding the birds and not ending well for them.

"Once I found out what it was, it kind of made it taste a little different," Ross says.

It was no matter.

The real feast would come during a certain October visit to Philly, and he and the Giants will return tonight for the first time since the National League Championship Series to start a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.

"I'm excited," Ross says of the visit, which is being billed as possible preview to an NLCS rematch. "I know they're probably going to welcome me in a Philadelphia way of booing me and stuff, but you know what, the fans are really passionate and it's a great place to play. I love playing there."

Ross, a 30-year-old journeyman the Giants picked up on waivers from Florida after the trading deadline, shattered the heavily favored Phillies' aura of invincibility in the NLCS, hitting two home runs off ace Roy Halladay in a 4-3, Game 1 victory that set the tone for a six-game series win.

"The first one takes the crowd out," Giants reliever Javier Lopez says. "The second one made us really believe even more that we belonged on the same field as these guys."

Ross went on to hit .350 with six extra-base hits, including three homers, and five RBI. He was named the series MVP.

"I really didn't know that it was going to be such a big deal," Ross says of the hoopla surrounding his Game 1 power burst. "I didn't really realize the magnitude of it at the time, and then afterwards, it became a huge media deal.

"When I look back, that was actually pretty neat."

Shortly after coming to San Francisco, Ross became part of a cast of characters affectionately known to Giants fans as the "outcasts and misfits" who went on to win the World Series.

This season, Ross is batting .258 with seven homers and 30 RBI, after missing the first 3 weeks with a calf injury.

Manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants targeted Ross because of his reputation for getting hot at the right time and delivering clutch hits.

"There are some guys who have a real propensity to rise to the occasion, those guys who do it late in the season in October," Bochy says, comparing him to former Cincinnati Reds slugger Tony Perez, who was "an easy out until you had to get him out."

"When [Ross] gets locked in, he can hit the ball out of the ballpark, he can drive the ball to all fields. So when you get a guy like that hot, they're probably going to do something to help you because they're clutch-type players with a knack for driving in runs."

Ross, the son of a steer wrestler from a rural cowboy town in New Mexico who himself aspired to be a rodeo clown, had to adjust to life in a uniquely diverse city, even compared to his previous stops in Miami, Los Angeles (the Dodgers), Cincinnati and Detroit. And he was no fan of the city's persistently cold, damp weather.

"As a visitor, I really didn't like it," Ross says of San Francisco. "I didn't really know where to go, and I didn't really understand the city. It really wasn't fun."

But after adjusting to the cold and figuring out which good eats don't make him sick, Ross says he's enjoying his new digs.

"I love this city," he says. "It's really just a melting pot and I love the diversity. In New Mexico, you don't get that a whole lot of that. It's a great city."

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