FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jonny Gomes reported to camp Wednesday morning, ahead of Fridays first official workout for position players. Gomes joined the Red Sox in November as a free agent, agreeing to a two-year, 10 million contract to play left field.
He appeared in 99 games for the As last season, batting .262, helping Oakland to the American League West title. Gomes played just 39 games, with 25 starts in left, in 2012. Throughout his eight-season career, during which hes also played for the Rays, Reds, and Nationals, Gomes has played 327 (292 starts) games in left and 145 (130 starts) in right. He knows Fenway Parks left field presents unique challenges.
Its the only left field like that in the game, Gomes said. Ive played it before. It doesnt worry me by any means. Just got to accept it. Cant butt heads with the Monster. Itll be an adventure but Im definitely excited.
Gomes, a career .244 hitter, with a .790 OPS, believes he has other tools to offer the Sox.
Hopefully some right-handed sock, he said. I got some speed as well. Just continue to play the game right. Im open to batting anywhere in the lineup, up, down, move around, protect some guys. Just help the rest of the guys touch the plate.
But Gomes, who turned 32 in November, was brought in as much for his on-field abilities as he was for his clubhouse abilities. The Sox hope he can be one of the new players to help change the sour atmosphere that has permeated the clubhouse since the Sox disastrous end to the 2011 season.
Im kind of biased to that situation, Gomes said. Quote-unquote clubhouse guy, quote-unquote leader. You dont get that with one year in the big leagues. You dont get that with two years in the big leagues. You dont earn that role and then that role disappears and then it might come back somewhere else. Its a hard role to earn. Its a hard role to bounce around and at the same time earn and demand respect inside the clubhouse. But I think its fairly easy to tell you the truth because I think theres one way to play the game and I think theres one way to respect the game. I dont think thats very negotiable. You do that correctly and you do that right and you do that on an everyday basis, I think it stands out.
Gomes, who finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2005, has been on three small-market teams that have gone to the postseason over the last five years the 2008 Rays, the 2010 Reds, and last season with the As.
What does it all have in common? Gomes asked. I think thats different for everybody but once you get inside that clubhouse and really figure some things out, it really does all add up.
Gomes was aware of the dysfunction that surrounded the Sox last season. But hes not concerned with it.
I think whats different about me and some of the guys that came in here, we werent miserable last year, he said. I wasnt. Do I know what happened here last year? Absolutely. But Im not going to let that bring me down. I wasnt a part of it. I won a division title last year. We had a great year. So I dont know about all the miserable and butting heads with everybody in the clubhouse. So I cant really respond to that because I didnt do it. But Im not going to change the person I am by any means. I just come in here and do what I do.
Ive seen this place rock and roll. I was against these guys in 2004, 2007. Ive seen Sox nation, Fenway, Boston, just be at the highest level it could possibly be. Were not too far removed from that now. Theres still some core pieces in here that have rings, have red sox rings. Its not like were bringing the old 70s back, the guys who won in the 80s to throw out the first pitch. These guys are still in uni and obviously starting with the manager. We dont got to go too far back to define winning in a red sox uniform.