Steve Rossi, who at one time was the heir apparent to Knight Ridder chairman Tony Ridder, has been hired by Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group as its chief operating officer. Rossi, 57, replaces Gerald E. Grilly, who is retiring. Rossi, who now lives in Los Gatos, will relocate to Denver where MediaNews is headquartered. Rossi was head of Knight Ridder’s newspaper division and seen as the executive next in the line to succeed Ridder at Knight Ridder from 2001 to 2004. In 2004, Rossi became the company’s chief financial officer. A story posted on the Mercury News web site on Friday said that while Gerald Grilly is retiring, 35-year-old Eric Grilly, president of MediaNews Group Interactive, will add the title of senior vice president of MediaNewsGroup. The younger Grilly and will join Singleton, president Jody Lodivic and Rossi on the company’s executive committee.