Father's strictness paying dividends now for Sox' Gomez

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Father's strictness paying dividends now for Sox' Gomez

BRONX, NY The teenager thought he could get away with it. Maybe, just maybe, he could pull one over on his father.

That plan didnt go so well. At all.

Cecilio Gomez was strict. As a military official in the Dominican Republic for over 20 years, he taught his children discipline and the value of education. Mauro, the oldest of three siblings, understood his fathers rules. There were times, though, when he wanted to be like the rest of his 13-year-old friends and miss a few days of school to play baseball.

Not in the Gomez household.

I remember one time he woke me up to go to school, Gomez told CSNNE.com. He went to work so I kept sleeping. When he came back, my mother told him I didnt go to school. He yelled at me, and it never happened again.

The discipline enforced by his father is one of the reasons why Gomez recounted the story from his locker in the Boston Red Sox visiting clubhouse in Yankee Stadium on Saturday, shortly after being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket.

The infielder knew early on that he wanted to pursue a career in baseball. At age 13, he started preparing for tryouts three years down the road. At 16, scouts began to take notice. By the time he was 18, the Texas Rangers signed him as an amateur free agent.

Growing up in the city of Bani, where baseball is a focal point of the community, Gomez found it difficult at times to split his attention between school and baseball when all he wanted to do was play the sport he loved.

It was a little bit hard, he said. I hated going to school, I just wanted to play baseball. When I was 15, I said, Hey dad, no more school. I just want to play baseball. He said, no. Youve got to finish. So I kept trying and kept trying.

Gomez continued his education until he signed. Looking back now at 27 years old, he believes staying in school has given him an advantage in his baseball career.

He played six years in the Rangers minor league system before signing with the Atlanta Braves in 2009. After two seasons in the Double-A and Triple-A levels, Gomez joined the Boston Red Sox in February. He made his Major League debut on May 13.

It makes you a better person, Gomez said of staying in school. I have good discipline. ... I understand the culture here. I just do what I have to do. I listen to the coach and veterans like Big Papi (David Ortiz), Adrian (Gonzalez), Pedey (Dustin Pedroia). I think thats going to help me.

Gomez was called up from the Pawtucket Red Sox on Saturday after pitcher Felix Doubront was placed on the 15-day disabled list. He immediately began mingling with his teammates, from fellow rookies to veteran players, when he arrived at Yankee Stadium.

Ortiz grinned as he talked about Gomez, praising his willingness to listen and eagerness to seek out advice. Gomez often asks him for tips on offense.

Thats my boy, said Ortiz. We try to teach him how to do the right thing, and this a game where consistency is the number one key for you to succeed here. At the stage where he is, its something where its still a learning process. He wants to make sure that hes at the right place at the right time doing the right thing so he can continue his career at this level.

He continued, Everybody that comes to this level tries to learn the best thing to do so you can stay here longer. The military, its something thats a process and hes trying to figure out things, which is a great thing now. Its something thats going to keep him around longer and give him the opportunity to have a wonderful career.

As a teenager, Gomez wanted to do one thing and one thing only. Taking the field as a member of the Red Sox 14 years later, he appreciates his fathers discipline and enforcement of education. And because he listened, now he gets to play ball every day.

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
---
Rick Porcello P

RAYS:
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
---
Matt Andriese P

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is the kind of season it has been for Clay Buchholz:

A little more than a month ago, he was merely taking up space on the Red Sox roster, having been summarily removed from the rotation after three months of poor outings.

He was in the bullpen, but the Sox were loathe to use him. Asked, memorably, why Buchholz hadn't been the choice to serve as a long reliever in a game in which the starter departed early, John Farrell candidly noted, in not so many words, that because the Sox still had a chance to win the game, Buchholz didn't make sense as an option.

Ouch.

But slowly, Buchholz became more effective in his new relief role. And when injuries struck the rotation, Buchholz got himself three cameo starts, during which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, topped by Tuesday's beauty -- 6 1/3 innings, one run allowed, nine strikeouts recorded.

Just as Buchholz has straightened out, however, Red Sox starters are suddenly stacked up like jets waiting for clearance to land at Logan Airport. Steven Wright returns from a brief DL stint Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez is not far behind.

When he pitched poorly, the Red Sox didn't have any other options.

When he pitched well, the Red Sox have plenty of other choices.

So, now what?

"As far as Clay goes,'' said John Farrell, "this will be, I'm sure, a conversation (had) within (the organization). But setting that aside, he's throwing the ball exceptionally well right now.''

That's indisputable.

But the question remains: In what capacity will he throw the ball in the near future?

There's been a suggestion to keep Buchholz in the rotation while moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. That would give the Sox a dependable lefty in relief -- as opposed to, say, Fernando Abad -- while also serving the dual purpose of putting a governor on Pomeranz's climbing innings total.

Pomeranz, who has plenty of bullpen experience in the big leagues, has also thrown 140 1/3 innings this season, eclipsing his previous major league high by nearly 40.

But Pomeranz is 27, not 21. He's shown no signs of fatigue. To the contrary, he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts. The Sox shouldn't mess with his success.

Instead, Buchholz should become one of the team's high-leverage set-up weapons, available in the seventh or eighth inning.

True, Buchholz doesn't have the swing-and-miss capability you'd prefer to have in the eighth inning, where the fewer balls put in play, the better off you are. But he can get lefties and righties out, and, pitching out of the stretch full-time, he's greatly improved his command.

Buchholz would remain the best option for a spot start if one of the five Red Sox starters faltered or got hurt. But the bullpen remains the best choice for him.

Ironic, isn't it? When he pitched poorly, he remained in the rotation for several months. Now that he's pitching superbly, he can't earn a permanent spot.

It's been that kind of season.