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Red Sox finalize two-year deal with Gomes

Red Sox finalize two-year deal with Gomes

Red Sox finalize two-year deal with Gomes
BOSTON -- With Oakland, outfielder Jonny Gomes was playing for his hometown team in 2011, a dream for any player. Now he's with the Red Sox, and that's a different sort of fantasy realized.

There was an ad for a car company that played at every A's home game last season. A little girl sang "Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet." Gomes thinks he'll be really living out that Americana now at Fenway Park.

"Not everyone has had the past I've had, I guess fortunately and unfortunately," Gomes said on Saturday, after his two-year deal with Boston became official. "I've played for the youngest organization in Tampa, I've played for the oldest organization, that being the Cincinnati Reds. I've played for the team I grew up cheering for in the Oakland A's, and now I get to play for what I think personally is the mecca of baseball fanbase: Chevy, American Pie, baseball."

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Gomes' deal is worth $10 million, and he comes in with the plan to play mostly left field. Just how much he'll play, and whether he could end up in a platoon like he was last season, is to be seen.

"I see him playing a lot of left field -- we think his bat fits well in the lineup, in the ballpark," Sox general manager Ben Cherington said on Saturday morning at Fenway Park. "We did a lot of work on him, and he's developed a really good reputation as a leader in the clubhouse, a guy that can mentor young players and make an influence. He plays with an edge and he's used to the AL East, so we just felt like it's a good fit, all the way around."

The Sox want at least one more outfielder, and they're still talking to Cody Ross.

Both Gomes and the team boil down the issue of his playing time to performance. Certainly, some matchups will favor Gomes better than others, but if he's performing, he expects to be in there.

"I'm not really too concerned about that," Gomes said. "I came up from some managers who taught me into believing that this is a results driven industry. And if the results are there, you'll play. I try and get myself ready one way and you know that can be ready for 162 games, and that could be at wherever the manager puts me, playing left, right, DH, or wherever the manager wants to play that me day."

The right-handed-hitting Gomes batted .299 (49-for-164) against lefties in 2012 with 11 home runs, tying for ninth in the American League. All 10 of his doubles came against lefties.

Gomes had a .413 on-base percentage against southpaws and a .974 on-base plus slugging percentage.

"He's had opportunities where he has handled right-handers well," Cherington said. "We think the ballpark is a good fit for him. He's a grinder, he's an intense competitor. We'll see. Matchups aren't always all about left-right; sometimes there are certain pitchers that a guy's a good fit with and others who they aren't. Those things are up to [manager John Farrell] and the staff to figure out. Jonny's a guy we felt just fits well on a number of fronts -- from a personality standpoint, from an ability standpoint. It's what we're trying to do."

Gomes is noted for having a positive clubhouse influence, something that will make him a good fit for a Red Sox team that is trying to improve its culture. Cherington said, too, that the market for Gomes developed quickly.

Gomes had talks with the A's before the season ended, but when those didn't come to fruition, he was excited to test the free-agent market.

"He was one of the guys we wanted to focus on going into the offseason," Cherington said. "You never know which ball falls first. There was a lot of competition for him early. It's just one of those things where his market sped up early, so we got on that quickly, similar to [David] Ross. There was no particular reason why it happened that way, but that's the way it unfolded."

Gomes has topped 500 at-bats just once in his career, back in 2010 as a member of the Reds. Last year, he helped the surprising A's reach the postseason by batting .262 with 18 homers, 47 RBIs and a .377 on-base percentage in 333 plate appearances.

Over his 10-year career, the 32-year-old Gomes is a .244 hitter with 136 homers, 411 RBIs and a .790 OPS. Gomes broke in with the Rays, for whom he played from 2003-08. He played for the Reds for 2 1/2 seasons before finishing the '11 season with the Nationals.

"He's a known team guy and characteristics that we're making an emphasis on placing," Farrell said. "Obviously he's got a lot of talent and has performed exceptionally well against left-handed pitching, and the fact that he has that reputation around the game, and what we're looking to add a greater number of in our clubhouse, with the emphasis that this is a team."

Ryan Kalish is one of the in-house outfield options the Sox carry, and any additions to the Sox -- like Gomes -- affect his potential playing time.

Kalish said he's not concerning himself with things he can't control, even if it means a return to Triple-A.

"You never know," Kalish said. "In 2010 after that season [when I came up] they went out and signed Carl [Crawford], so you just never know. And I don't even look for that, and like we've seen -- it's just crazy since that what the roster looks like now, you know what I mean? I'm not worried about it. I've said this before. Ben has known me since the day I came into this organization. Whatever he does, I totally back it up and I think that if I'm healthy, healthy, I can come and do a lot of things on the baseball field that'll help this team win."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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