Advertisement
  1. Rays

Brandon Gomes has a future in Rays' bullpen

Brandon Gomes has allowed just two runs in nine innings, with nine strikeouts and no walks this spring.
Published Mar. 26, 2013

PORT CHARLOTTE — In an exuberant and often quirky Rays clubhouse, reliever Brandon Gomes is the quieter type.

Gomes, 28, will bury his head in the latest thrilling historical novel by Ken Follett, expecting to finish Fall of Giants in the next few weeks. In his downtime, he'll catch up on his crosswords.

Gomes, a Tulane graduate, thought about attending law school, taking the LSAT after one of his first minor-league seasons. He said he scored in the 68th percentile, which would have got him into some "pretty good" schools.

"It was just a backup plan," Gomes said, smiling. "It's probably a non-issue now."

That's because Gomes has a future in the Rays bullpen, having established himself over parts of the past two seasons. Gomes may not be there on opening day, even though he had a terrific spring. He's likely the odd man out to veteran right-hander Jamey Wright.

But Gomes, healthy and confident, expects to impact Tampa Bay at some point this season, having regained the health and form that he showed in a spectacular September as a rookie in 2011. He has allowed two runs in 101/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks this spring, leading manager Joe Maddon to say he has had one of the best camps.

"He's going to be such a big part of what we're going to do this year — and in the future," Maddon said. "Beyond his skills, this guy is such a great teammate, everybody loves having him there. If you take the Brandon Gomeses of the world, if in fact they don't make a team coming out of spring training, they will impact, and when their time comes, they stay for a long time."

Gomes attributed his strong spring to a regular offseason of training. He had back surgery before the 2012 season, when he battled inconsistencies in five different stints with the Rays. He said he didn't feel the same life behind the ball until September, when he allowed just one run in five outings.

"I feel great," Gomes said. "I'm feeling as good as I ever felt, if not better. It's just another year of experience under my belt. And I have a little more confidence from starting to understand the game better, talking to different pitchers and all the guys on staff on how to attack hitters."

Though Gomes, just 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, doesn't reach the high 90s with his fastball, he has never been afraid of going after guys. There are stories of his high school days in Fall River, Mass., when Gomes would tell hitters he was throwing a fastball — then whip it by them.

"When I've thrown well, and when I've struggled a bit, that's really the main factor is I stay aggressive and not worrying so much about making the perfect pitch, but attacking hitters," Gomes said.

Gomes said he has believed he belonged since late in his rookie year in 2011, when — pitching in a pennant race — he finished with 11 straight scoreless appearances. "That's a lot of experience for a first-year guy," he said. "That was huge."

The Rays appear to be leaning toward keeping Wright (6.30 ERA), having to tell the sinkerballer by today's deadline whether they're putting him on 25-man roster (or DL), release him or pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to go to the minors.

But Gomes doesn't worry about the "outside factors," concentrating on his pitching, or flipping pages in his book.

"When I'm working, I'm working, whether it be prior to the game or on the mound," Gomes said. "And, other than that, have a good time. This clubhouse promotes that."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Davey Martinez gained valuable experience as a coach behind Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay. But when Maddon exited, the Rays bypassed him for a "new voice," Kevin Cash. Tampa Bay Times
    After failing to land a half-dozen manager jobs, including with the Rays, Martinez and Nats ended up a good match.
  2. Jose Altuve prepares to be mobbed by his teammates at home plate as Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman leaves the field after giving up a walkoff two-run homer to the Astros second baseman in the ninth inning to win Game 6 of the AL Championship Series 6-4 on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The Astros win the series 4-2 and advance to the World Series to play the Washington Nationals. MATT SLOCUM  |  AP
    New York ties the ALCS Game 6 in the top of the ninth with a two-run HR before the diminutive second baseman wins it with a blast off Aroldis Chapman, putting Houston in the World Series.
  3. In 1968, slugger Frank Howard, known as the "Washington Monument," proved to be one of the few bright spots for the Washington Senators. AP
    The Nationals’ improbable postseason run rekindles memories of the woeful Washington Senators
  4. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, on left, along with Erik Neander, center, senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, and Chaim Bloom, senior vice president of baseball operations, address the media during a press conference at Tropicana Field Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays Tales: Research now, action to come as Rays get caught up after playoff run. Plus, TV rating info and rumblings.
  5. The Astros’ George Springer signals foul, but the delirious crowd in the rightfield stands at Yankee Stadium knows better as the ball hit by Aaron Hicks caroms off the foul pole for a three-run homer in the first inning of Game 5 of the AL Championship Series on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. FRANK FRANKLIN II  |  AP
    After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first, New York slugs two home runs in the bottom half of the inning and cuts the series lead to 3-2. Game 6 is tonight in Houston.
  6. An emotional CC Sabathia is helped off the field during the eighth inning in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series against the Astros on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The 39-year-old left-hander injures his pitching shoulder and is taken off the Yankees' postseason roster, thus ending his 19-year major-league career. MATT SLOCUM  |  AP
    The 39-year-old left-hander is taken off New York’s playoff roster, thus ending his 19-year big-league career.
  7. Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) and right wing Luke Witkowski (28) celebrate with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) after the Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 in a shootout in an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: There was bad news Thursday in the Tampa Bay penalty box, for USF’s Blake Barnett, for the Yankees and the NFL’s reigning MVP.
  8. Astros manager A.J. Hinch answers questions during a news conference before Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. FRANK FRANKLIN II  |  AP
    A.J. Finch calls the accusations, including one of his team signaling by whistling, a “joke.”
  9. Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez raises the NLCS trophy after Game 4 of the baseball National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Washington. The Nationals won 7-4 to win the series 4-0. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) JEFF ROBERSON  |  AP
    They’re easy to like, familiar-looking and also connected to Montreal. Most importantly, they’re not the Astros or Yankees.
  10. Nationals aces Max Scherzer, left, and Stephen Strasburg have gone a combined 5-0 with a 1.71 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 42 innings this postseason. Sweeping the Cardinals in the NLCS also means they will get an extra week of rest before the World Series. ANDREW HARNIK | AP Photo ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    John Romano: In the age of computer models and number crunching, Washington reached the World Series the old-fashioned way. With a pair of proven starting pitchers.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement