There may be no more team-first player in professional sports than Jonny Gomes. In that made-up dictionary people often cite (you know, the one with the pictures), next to “Team Player” is a picture of Gomes. But the Boston media, in a way only they can do, have planted the seed for what could be an ugly story for the Red Sox this summer.
Gomes, who signed a 2-year, $10 million contract with the Red Sox this off-season was asked by Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald about the possibility of being a platoon player…
“You look at baseball cards, there’s no such thing as a position of a ‘guy that hits lefties’ or a ‘guy that hits righties…You either hit or you don’t. Are they different? They are different, 100 percent, lefty and righty. But I didn’t hit just lefties in the 12-year-old All-Stars. Coming up through the minors, I didn’t have a swing that just hits lefties. I work very hard in the offseason to condition myself to be ready for 162 (games).”
You hear that? Jonny could hit right-handed pitchers when he was 12!
Of course, Gomes is just a competitor and he wants to play everyday like everybody else. But what happens in May when the Red Sox are struggling and Gomes is only playing three games a week? The media is going to come back to this quote and question Gomes about his playing time. And at that point, Gomes will be stuck between trying to downplay this comment or going off on his manager.
Gomes’ struggles with the label of a platoon hitter are nothing new for Rays fans. After being demoted to triple-A late in the 2008 season, Gomes told a writer that the Rays never even let him take batting practice against righties. That was shortly before the Rays released Gomes.