Jonny Gomes might be a 'spark plug' but he admits: 'Tomorrow is not a guarantee for me'

Mike Petraglia
May 29, 2014 - 3:51 am

No one needs to remind Jonny Gomes of his value and role on the Red Sox. The veteran outfielder proved his worth on the club again on Wednesday night, going 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and scoring twice in a 4-0 win over the Braves. After a 10-game skid, the Red Sox are suddenly on a three-game streak in the right direction. "Obviously not ideal but I'll tell you what, no one truly had their head in the sand," Gomes said. "No one was ready to throw in the white towel on the season, by any means. It was just a rough patch but this team does a pretty good job of turning the page and cleaning the slate once we leave these double doors here. Likewise on a win, what we did tonight doesn't matter tomorrow. So, we just have to clean the slate and get back to work tomorrow." Gomes' numbers this year virtually mirror those for his career across the board - .248/.343/.425/.768 - in 39 games. Gomes is batting .308 with a mighty .950 OPS against lefties this year. What makes Gomes so valuable is his attitude, given his uncertain role from game to game. Gomes has handled the platoon situation in the outfield flawlessly, understanding that he will not be playing every day as skipper John Farrell tries to maximize his ability to mash left-handed pitching. Wednesday night, however, Gomes got the left field nod against righty Gavin Floyd and Gomes was ready as always to answer the bell. "Play here, sit here. Sit there, play there. I just go pitch to pitch, at-bat to at-bat," Gomes said philosophically. "Tomorrow is not a guarantee for me so I just run it out there and any way I can generate a run on the board and take one off with my defense, that's what I'll try to do. "Tomorrow is not a guarantee. It can be exhausting at times but I've done it for a while where every pitch, every at-bat is not so much pressure but I put a lot on it and I have a lot of pride in it. If I do play sparingly, I want to affect the game somehow. That's what I try to do." Of course, the way he affects a game may not result in a win but the by-product can be just as valuable. That was no more obvious than on Sunday in St. Petersburg. As his team was in the midst of losing its 10th straight game, Gomes came in from his post in left field and stood up for his teammates in the dugout when Yunel Escobar started to jaw with the Red Sox dugout after stealing third base in the seventh inning of  a game Tampa Bay led, 8-3. He was thrown out for starting an on-field fracas but the Red Sox haven't lost since. Whatever it takes. His manager certainly appreciates the attitude that makes Gomes one of the true leaders in the clubhouse during bad times (10-game losing streak) and the good times of a three-game winning streak. "He's one of the players that makes others around him better," Farrell said. "The way he talks the game, the confidence with which he speaks -- and he goes out and backs it up with somewhat of the body language and the energy he displays every night. He doesn't take anything for granted. He's had to work for everything he's received throughout his career. It's a guy that plays on the edge, and you feel it when he's standing in the batter's box or the way he interacts with everybody in the clubhouse. "It's not one play inside the game. He's a smart player. He anticipates situations well, whether it's on defense or running the bases. He gives you every ounce of effort on every play. On kind of a slow roller, he's going to put whenever pressure he can on the defense with the speed that he has. Pena forces a throw, throws it wildly, he ends up at second base and scores the lead run. He finds a way to make the most of the situation inside it, whether it's a play like I mentioned or a little bit more of the flair for the dramatic late in the game in a pinch-hit situation." What does Gomes bring to his teammates? "Bad beard?" A.J. Pierzynski deadpanned. "He brings energy. He's a good player. Everyone knows that. He brings energy, he brings a swagger and he's also a pretty darn good player." Gomes can certainly appreciate the bulldog mentality of another teammate - John Lackey - whose skills were on full display Wednesday with 6 1/3 shutout innings. "He's pretty special," Gomes said of the Red Sox starter. "Even all the way [in] last year in the postseason, one of my biggest highlights that I remember was him walking off the mound [during Game 6 of World Series] and this whole place chanting 'Lackey.' In 2011 and 2012, I don't think that happened. With everything he battled through in this city and this city to give back and to take Lackey back is pretty special. He had an offseason, went back to work and that's Lackey, what you saw right there." And what the Red Sox saw in Gomes Wednesday was another example of a teammate who can help lead the club out of the abyss and back into a playoff chase. "Pretty veteran team and at the same time, the young guys are really young," Gomes said. "You've got to let them fail, you really do. You have to let them fail and let them get themselves out [of it]. And if they can't, that's when you come in. You succeed and fail on your own and then some of the other guys can come in. With that being said, there really wasn't too much to be said. The scoreboard said it all: we pitched and didn't hit and hit and didn't pitch. There wasn't too much of a science to it. The last couple of days we've figured some things out and lineup has started to turn over. Our pitching's there. We'll be all right."