Gomes groomed to be Sox left fielder

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Gomes groomed to be Sox left fielder

BOSTON Even before he ever cracked a big league lineup, Jonny Gomes began grooming himself to play left field at Fenway Park.

Gomes is now the newest member of the Red Sox and the teams left fielder. The Sox announced Saturday the free agent agreed to a two-year (10 million) deal.

Im excited, Gomes said on a conference call with the media Saturday afternoon. I think the challenge is as big of a challenge as you can put on it personally. Obviously getting drafted by Tampa, made it through the organization pretty fast, was up and down between the big leagues and Triple A early in my career. But the Triple-A Durham park has almost the exact dimensions in left field as the green wall, and I always thought young in my career I was grooming myself to play left in Boston one day. And this was obviously even before I was in the big leagues, obviously Manny Ramirez was there, so it was far-fetched.

But really worked hard on that wall, really studied the angles, and really took the challenge as something exciting and not something difficult. So I do have quite a few starts in left field in Boston, but I got years of starts in Triple A underneath that wall in Durham, which is just about exactly the same.

Gomes, 32, was an 18th-round pick of the Rays in 2001, making his big league debut in 2003. His first major league road trip, beginning the 03 season, went to Yankee Stadium and then Fenway Park. In his 10-season career, he has played with the Rays, Reds, Nationals, and As. He has appeared in 327 career games (290 starts) in left field, and 145 (130 starts) in right.

He appeared in 99 games for the As last season, batting .262 with 18 home runs, 47 RBI, a .377 on-base percentage, and .491 slugging percentage. He appeared in 39 games (25 starts) in left field, three in right field, and served as the designated hitter in 53.

In 31 career games at Fenway Park, Gomes, a right-handed hitter, has hit .262 with three home runs, seven RBI, a .354 OBP, and .429 SLG. He hit .2991126.413.561 in 196 plate appearances against left-handed hitters in 2012, .209721.324.391 against righties.

In 2012 Gomes led the majors, hitting .480 (12-for-25) with two outs and runners in scoring position, the best mark in the American League in 17 years. He hit .311 (19-for-61) with runners in scoring position, and .306 (38-for-124) with runners on base.

Im not really too concerned about how Ill be used, Gomes said. I came up groomed into believing that this is a results-driven industry. And if the results are there, youll play. I try to get myself ready one way, and thats to be ready for 162 games and thats to be wherever the manager puts me, left, right, DH, or wherever the manager wants to put me that day. But I have one way to approach the game and thats to be ready every single day, and one way to approach the offseason and thats to get myself in shape for 162 and like I said before this is a results-driven industry. So if the results are there, youll play. So Ill be ready to play every single day and hopefully I can keep myself in the lineup.

Gomes is a student of the game, with an obvious appreciation for its history. Even as a visiting player at Fenway, he respected the history of the games oldest big league park.

You cant help but to be in awe of the history of the ballpark, he said. The further you walk in and the more you play, the more history escapes you really cant help but to take. Its almost selfish to say its just your team vs. the Red Sox. There are so many battles and so many pitches and home runs exchanged and world champs that paved the way for me to get in between those lines. Its so much more than a nine-inning ballgame that Im playing that day, which I definitely dont take for granted and Im very appreciative of.

Now, hes looking forward to being part of it.

First and foremost, nothing less than honored, he said. When you have a team with the history-rich organization, the fan base, educated fans, its an honor. Not everyone has had the path that Ive had, bouncing around. Ive played for the youngest organization in Tampa. Ive played for the oldest organization, that being the Cincinnati Reds. Ive played for the team that I grew up cheering for, the Oakland As. And now I get to play for what I think personally is the mecca of baseball fan base. Chevy, American pie, and baseball. And baseball, thats the Red Sox. So Im definitely honored.

He watched from afar as the Sox suffered through their disastrous 2012 season.

Obviously what happened last year, unless you were living under a rock, what went on with the Red Sox, and I know the core guys with the Red Sox, he said. I know the guys that have been there for a while. I know Dustin Pedroia, I know Jacoby Ellsbury, I know Jon Lester. I know Big Papi David Ortiz. So right away, without even signing, I was like the Red Sox are going to play with the biggest chip on their shoulder. Knowing the pasts of those guys and how they play, I said theres no possible way that would happen two straight years to the Sox nation, and telling myself, I would love to be a part of that.

I would be honored and love to bring back the fire to the Nation. And ironically enough, the phone rang. And at the end of the day, where I am in my career, it wasnt about location, it wasnt about need, it wasnt about money. It was about being wanted. All I wanted was to be wanted... Me being a historian of the game and a fan of the game, it was a pretty easy decision to be able to call Fenway home.

Gomes has a reputation as a stand-up guy. A solid character in the clubhouse. Someone who will lead by positive examples. How does he see his role in turning the team around from 2012?

I always say how does a big machine run? he said. Well, a big machine runs with a lot of grease. You get a tall building with all kinds of fancy windows. Well, its that foundation that keeps that building up. I always say I represent the grease that runs the machine, not the machine. I represent the foundation, not the star at the top.

And for the Red Sox, that may be just what they need.

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

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Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!

PLAY NUMBER: 4

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.
 

PLAY NUMBER: 3

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.
 

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

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Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

The Celtics will sign free agent Gerald Green, the guard they drafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2005, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported.

Green, 30, played for the Miami Heat last season and averaged 8.9 points a game. Deveney reports Green will sign a one-year guaranteed contract. 

Green has been well-traveled since being traded by the Celtics in the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007, the year he won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He has played for seven other NBA teams and played two seasons in Russia. His best season was 2013-14 in Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points a game for the Suns. 

Deveney also reports that sources around the league continue to indicate the Celtics are looking to make a trade for a "star-caliber type" player. Last week, he reported on their interest in the Clippers' Blake Griffin.