Jonny Gomes is keeping the Red Sox diary for the rest of the season. In this installment he explains how to hit in the clutch, what he’s seen in Xander Bogarts off the field that has impressed him, what the Red Sox need to do to get to October baseball, and sheds some light on the mystery around the Red Sox beards. (--As told to Louise K. Cornetta)
I’m taking over the diary for the rest of the season from Will Middlebrooks. Good to see Will back up with us and helping the team win.
With me, I have to be ready to play at all times. I guess everything for me starts with living and dying with every pitch, even when I’m not in the game. I truly care what Middlebrooks does or [Dustin] Pedroia does or [Mike] Napoli does. By watching the game, if I see them doing something that is mechanically incorrect that they might not see, then I will say something. It’s something I can bring to the team by being able to help them.
With that said, I’m in tune to every single pitch in the game. So when my turn or my number is called, it’s like I’ve played all seven, eight or nine innings. So nothing can catch me off guard this way.
I’ve had this role for many years. With playing time comes the numbers, but the fans really just see the numbers. I never worry about my numbers. It’s more about the production and how my role is with the team. I know people like to say I hit well in the clutch. But it’s funny because I could go 0-for-10 next year and then I’m not good hitting in the clutch. That’s just how this game is.
I guess clutch/pressure is what you put on it. There is actually more pressure on the pitcher. If he fails, he gets a loss. If I fail, well, we get another crack at it. Pressure is just what you put on it. Obviously there is some but that’s why we were hitting on a tee in our backyards as we were growing up, getting ready for that exact situation. You just have to stay calm and do what the situation calls for.
My experience as a member of the Red Sox has been very positive. If you’re in first place and your experience is not positive, I don’t know what else you’re looking for. I might be a little biased this year compared to other guy’s first years, but with a new manager coming in and a cleaning of the slate, you could argue this is everyone’s first year. It’s not a rebuilding year but you’re rebuilding the tradition of the Sox. Rebuilding the winning attitude. Along with that was Boston Strong being born and that was very intense and something I will always remember about this first year here.
Jake Peavy picked up a good luck charm for us in San Francisco with a three-foot tall cigar store Indian. He went with us to Los Angeles and is home here with us. He brought that guy into our lives. So far he’s been good luck and has had some wins in him.
Another thing that happened on the West Coast trip was I was honored with Jonny Gomes Day in my hometown of Petaluma, Calif. The original Jonny Gomes Day was Feb. 11, 2006. I stick to my roots. I remember where I came from and what got me to where I am today. Petaluma is a small town in Northern California. I remember being a kid and there was no one famous around or any big athletes in that area. I just do what I can to give back to the community. Where I am now also allows me to have a louder voice as far as media outlets to help people out. It’s just cool to see people back home and the mayor appreciate it.
I remember leaving spring training and being like, “Look at August, that’s going to be tough.” But we made it through and now we can look to September where we have some days off. We put ourselves in a situation where we don’t have to scoreboard watch. We control our own destiny. If we play our game, we’ll finish out where we want. If we hit some bumps, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. The main thing in September is health, health over performance. If you’re healthy, you’ll continue to do what you have been doing. I think we’ve been on a roll and good health will hopefully get us into some October baseball.
This time of year is fun too, seeing guys get called up like Xander Bogaerts. Most people look at tools when it comes to a player, you know speed, power, etc. I look at it if you’re in the big leagues, you’re good. So we can put the tools aside. I need to know what kind of person you are, if you have the will to win, the will to learn, to be a good teammate. I could go on and on about characteristics outside of just baseball tools. I look at Xander and he’s out taking ground balls at 3:40 for a 7 o’clock game. That says something about his work ethic and also he asks questions and wants answers. He’s really plugged in. He’s off to a good start. He’s way ahead of the curve with how young he is, but it’s good to get him up here.
All right, I know you want to know what’s up with the beard I have. I’ve been keeping it trim. Believe it or not, you would think a long beard is low maintenance but it’s actually high maintenance. Everyone is trying to dig up what’s going on with it. These beards haven’t gotten a hit or thrown a strike all year, it’s still us behind them. We’re just having fun with it. It’s more a team chemistry thing.
And yes, I am aware everyone thinks me and Napoli are twins. If you’re looking for a difference between us, I’m an outfielder and he’s an infielder. It kind of happened on accident. My kids think Daddy is on TV when he’s hitting. Even my kids are getting tricked. Since we have been kind of blending together, we keep running with it. We purposely sit next to each other and get our haircuts together so we look trim. We’ve definitely been having fun with it.
We like to have fun on this team. Take the other day, I did a player appearance. The guy who put on the appearance was a big cricket fan. He gave me a cricket bat and ball for talking to his clients. So I brought it to the yard. I took some soft tosses with it behind second base during batting practice. I threw one up and got it over the Monster one time. I plan on sticking to baseball though.
Football is starting up. I like college and would say I’m more into college as a whole. But with the NFL, I’m tuned into the Niners. College, I’m all over the board. Now that I’m in New England, I am getting immersed in what the Patriots are doing, like Tim Tebow being cut. Our third base coach, Brian Butterfield, is a diehard Patriots fan. He keeps me updated to everything that’s going on. You don’t have to go too far around here to get some Patriots news.
No Fantasy Football for me this year. I did it last year and won. I have house money now. So I think I’m just going to sit on it.
Well, the season is going to be filled with peaks and valleys. I’d say we’ve been playing pretty good baseball. I think we’ve done a really good job of picking each other up and just passing the torch. We’ve been able to hide guys' struggles or injuries. Like David Ortiz started the season off on the DL and Mike Napoli has a record-breaking month. Some guys kind of slowed down of late and then Shane Victorino steps up. Before the break, Pedey was hitting upward of .330. It seems we’re all taking turns of getting hot and in a 162-game season that’s what you need.