Outfielder Jonny Gomes, who was traded from the Red Sox along with Jon Lester to the Athletics on Thursday morning for Yoenis Cespedes, joined Middays with MFB to discuss the move and his time in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Gomes returns to Oakland, where he played in 2012 before joining the Red Sox as a free agent and helping Boston win the 2013 World Series.
“I’m in a situation right now where I’m getting packaged up with the best pitcher in the game, heading over to the team with the best record in the game. So I’m a little bit excited there,” Gomes said. “At the same time, you talk about a soft spot in my heart and a soft spot with some of the relationships I’ve made in Boston. This chapter, for the time being, has come to an end.”
Added Gomes: “I definitely didn’t want to go anywhere. I just can’t fathom a baseball player saying he’d ever want to get out of Boston, to tell you the truth. I came here on a whim. I came here when this team finished in last place and I wanted to join this club when it was in last place. Rode a pretty magical wave last year. This year things haven’t gone as well. We were hoping.
“But at the same time, this is the Boston Red Sox, at the end of the day. To be able to toe into that batter’s box where some of the greats have, and just to wear that uniform and at the same time share relationships, hit in the same BP group as David Ortiz and [Mike] Napoli and Dustin Pedroia. Jim Rice and Luis Tiant walking around, all the greats from the pictures up there. That’s the stuff that I don’t take for granted, by any means.”
Gomes had high praise for the player with whom he’s leaving Boston, noting that Lester refused to be distracted by constant talk of contract negotiations.
“This guy’s as professional as it gets,” Gomes said. “This guy worries about one thing, and that’s every fifth day, going on the rubber, throwing that ball downhill. He’s such a positive guy. He doesn’t have that in his bag of tricks. He doesn’t have that in his characteristic, to throw people under the bus and to get mad, not treat it the right way. He doesn’t even have that in his bag of tricks. Since the day I got to Fort Myers, and I guess we’re leaving together, but I’ve never seen this guy be negative. He just puts all his energy, all his thoughts, all his work ethic into helping the ball club win every five days. Even in between, he’s doing what he can with the young kids.
“I never saw him pouting around the clubhouse, I never saw him come to the yard late, I never saw him leave early because the negotiations weren’t going well or whatever. You can’t control what you can’t control. He lived his life like that.”
Added Gomes: “We talked this morning. This guy wasn’t throwing pots and pans. This guy was just worried about his next start and asking about the rubber and the clay — like I’d have any idea. But it just shows where his mind is. He’s already looking to get guys out for the A’s.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.
On his emotions upon being traded: “You have to accept that [he's a "second-tier" player who bounces around]. I’ve done my best and kind of put my thumbprint wherever I have gone, to do my best to play as hard as I can, respect the game as much as I can, to not be just kind of forgotten, the non-tender guy. It’s all there. It’s a whirlwind of emotions. Definitely not angry by any means. I’m not angry at anyone. I can honestly say that I came here, I played in Boston for a year and half, I ran out every single ground ball, I never came out of a game for a physical reason, a physical reason never stopped me from playing a game, and I never went on the DL. I think I might be the only one from 2013 spring, position player, who can say that about themselves that the durability was there. I was ready when No. 5 was called every single time. And I was treated right by the manager and the GM. So, definitely not angry.
“But we all know me being a fan of the game and the history of the game. To be able to leave this place, not ideal. But at the same time, I can go back to Game 6 in Fenway and put a smile on my face. And of course, going to Oakland, where I’m from, born and raised. I was a diehard A’s fan as a kid growing up. In 2012 I was able to put an AL West champs sticker on the wall. Now I’m taking the best pitcher in the game heading over to the best record in the game. So that’s pretty exciting.”
On the Red Sox’ struggles this season: “I don’t think it was one thing more than the other. We pitched and we didn’t hit, and we’d hit and we didn’t pitch. But I would say there’s hundreds of ways to lose in this game: You can not pitch, you can not hit, you can not play defense, the chemistry, the development, the coaching, people are ready, people are not ready, people are in the wrong spot, this position, that position. There’s so many ways to lose a Major League Baseball game.
“But in reality there’s not that many ways to win a game. We were just finding a couple of ways to lose games, different than what we did last year. But at the same time, that was a different team. Obviously you’d like to win every single year, but how about this to chew on? In 2012 [with the Athletics] I was two more games back, 14 1/2 back August 4th, and we came back and we won the division. So there’s still a possibility. I didn’t throw in the towel. One at-bat, one rout, one anything. The season’s not over.”
On parting from his close friends on the Red Sox, specifically Pedroia and Napoli: “It truly is going to be tough to part from [Napoli] and everyone’¦ This was different than a team last year that we built. It was like a brotherhood, it really was. You never get traded away from your brother, but it truly seems like we are.”
On Cespedes, with whom Gomes played in 2012: “This game’s won and lost on pitching, we all know that. But this guy is not going to shy away from putting some points on the board by any means. This guy’s a heck of an athlete and a heck of a game-changer you guys are getting back. The Executive of the Year, Ben Cherington, I’m sure did his homework on him. And I can vouch for him, this guy can hit.”
On his message to the fans: “I know this year hasn’t gone as we’d all like it. But please, please, everyone do not forget about that 2013 season — the worst to first, the tragedy of the Boston Marathon, everyone rallying around the city, the finish line, the duck boats, everything, celebrating at home. Might be down a little bit in the win-loss column right now, but do not let that erase any of those memories from last year that I get to wear a ring on my finger for. I’m proud to be a Red Sox for those times.”