Things could not have gotten off to much worse of a start for C Yan Gomes headed into Thursday night, but he likely felt a little better personally following a 10-4 shellacking by the Chicago White Sox.
Despite the bad loss, Gomes snapped a 1-for-21 stretch at the plate to start the year with a home run to left field off of a curve low and out of the zone.
The 29-year old said he had been waiting on something to go in his favor.
“I wish it could’ve come a couple at-bats before,” he said. “But, for the sake of keeping my head afloat, sure, I definitely needed it. It was one of those at-bats where whether I got a hit or not, you’re just trying to put a good at-bat together.”
Gomes has struggled ever since his Silver Slugger-winning 2014 season, with consistent injury issues culminating in a 2016 where the catcher split .167/.201/.327. His now .287 OBP since joining the Indians in 2013 is the worst in team history among catchers.
There is no doubt that Gomes has struggled, but one of the things he has not struggled with this season is injuries. Even though the statistics look the same as the past two years, the catcher says this time has been different.
“My body’s not hurting and I’m not pressing trying to fight against something,” he added. “I feel like I’ve had some good at-bats, hit some balls hard, it’s just kind of been right at people. You just can’t look at it like that. Last year, I was trying to hit the ground running from being injured and I was doing a bad omen to myself.”
Ultimately, the goal has been to stay out of his own head, something which Gomes admits has happened, especially with runners in scoring position. He also admitted that he has tinkered with his swing, which has stopped him from being himself at times.
“I know I’m a good hitter,” he said. “I’ve got a silver trophy at home that tells me I am. It’s just a matter of being myself and not trying to do too much.”
Manager Terry Francona did not seem at all bothered by Gomes’ issues at the plate. The skipper acknowledged that things still have not gone as planned for his backstop, but realizes that things are different at that position.
“You are going to be, some at-bats you are going to rush out to the on-deck circle because you were talking to that pitcher, and you are not as ready as somebody else. I believe in that,” Tito said. “I was around Jason Varitek for eight years and I got to see it first-hand, just how important and how much it can mean to pitchers.
“You watch Gomer, Roberto does the same thing, when the inning is over, they go right to the pitcher. Instead of thinking about their at-bat, they’re still in the inning with that pitcher, but that is what good catchers do.”