Rejuvenated Ross readies for return to Texas

June 25th, 2018

It'd be hard to blame if he'd soured on his time in Texas last year. Coming off offseason surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome, the veteran right-hander made only 12 appearances for the Rangers. He posted a 7.71 ERA and was released in mid-September.

It's an ugly blip on an otherwise impressive resume for Ross, who was excellent for the Padres from 2013-15 and has been the rock of the San Diego rotation since signing a Minor League deal in December.

On Tuesday, Ross returns to the Globe Life Park mound, where he pitched his home games during the worst statistical season of his career. But when he recalls his tenure with the Rangers, he's quick to dismiss those struggles.

Ross chooses not to dwell on the time he allowed seven runs in three innings against Toronto. Or when he allowed nine runs over 3 1/3 in Baltimore. In his eyes his time in Texas was defined by his outing last June 16 against Seattle -- the day he finally pitched a big league game after 15 months on the shelf, and won.

"I'd probably have struggled no matter where I was last year, just being five, six months out of surgery and picking up a baseball again," Ross said. "It meant a lot to pitch and be playing baseball again. The results weren't pretty. But for me, around this time, facing the Mariners, getting on the mound, getting a win, that was pretty special.

"It was a lot of ups and downs in that year with Texas. But I think it was growing pains, and I was going to go through it no matter where I was, really."

Still, it took a move back to San Diego for Ross to rejuvenate his career. In 15 starts this season, he owns a 3.34 ERA. The Padres have won 10 of those outings.

"It doesn't surprise me one bit," Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley said. "If Tyson had a 2.50 ERA, it wouldn't be surprising. I know what he can do. I know how he works."

Ross' Padres reunion was no coincidence. He needed a comfortable environment. Balsley, meanwhile, saw a pitcher who merely needed to shake off the rust of his post-surgery season.

In December, the two sides came to an agreement on a Minor League deal. Generally, for a 31-year-old vet like Ross, those contracts feature opt-out clauses at the end of spring camp. He didn't have one.

"It's hard enough to come into a new team or a new environment," Ross said. "But when you're coming off a year where you just put up a 7 [ERA], got released, it was nice to have that sense of comfort and be in an environment that I've been a part of before."

It's worth wondering how much longer Ross will be part of that environment. As a pending free agent, Ross is already the subject of trade chatter. He's a coveted asset, and it's easy to see why.

His fastball velocity has dipped a bit. But he's been much more precise, particularly with his four-seamer. His slider, which has long been his signature weapon, bites as fiercely as ever.

"I expected it," Balsley said. "He's always going to do everything he possibly can to be on the mound. There's even times where he works too hard. I've had to speak to ... Tyson about over-usage of his body. It's a credit to Tyson. He wants to be dependable and he wants to be reliable to his teammates, and he knows what he has to do to get himself there."

It's the second time Balsley and Ross have collaborated on a career rebirth. Ross was an A's castoff when he arrived in San Diego in 2013. A season later, he was an All-Star.

"My first time in San Diego, the Padres gave me a second chance at my career," Ross said. "Now they're giving me a third chance."

And Ross is making the most of it.

Lyles' MRI results bode well

Right-hander got relatively reassuring results Monday in San Diego from an MRI that revealed he had right elbow inflammation and nothing more serious, manager Andy Green said. Lyles was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday and could be ready to return as soon as he's eligible.

"He's probably going to shut down for a few days, start throwing again and hopefully it's not a long process, hopefully he's back relatively quickly," Green said. "He's shut down throwing through the next three or four days and then see how he feels when he picks up a ball on Friday or Saturday … He's going to fly back this way tonight and be with us [Tuesday] and the next day. He won't throw, but he'll work out with us and be with us and then coming off the off-day, we'll expect him to hopefully play catch in a few days after that. Ten days is probably realistic."