Gomes knows he 'can't butt heads with the Monster'

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Gomes knows he 'can't butt heads with the Monster'

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.

Bogaerts continues to battle through struggles with bat

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Bogaerts continues to battle through struggles with bat

BOSTON -- Early in 2016 praises were sung around the league that Xander Bogaerts was the best hitter in baseball.

Rightfully so. For a good portion of the season he led the league in both batting average and hits. But between Mookie Betts’ ascension and Bogaerts’ drop in average from .331 on 7/29 to .306 after Monday night’s game, he’s taken a back seat.

But the Red Sox shortstop’s month-long dry spell hasn’t been a straight decline. Although he was held hitless Monday, Bogaerts went 6-for-13 (.462) against Kansas City.

In fact, the 23-year-old doesn’t even consider the recent month of struggles the worst stretch of his career.

“2014 probably,” Bogaerts said, “yeah I had a terrible, terrible few months -- probably three months.”

That was of course the season a lot came into question surrounding the now All-Star shortstop, so he was pretty spot on. In 2014 Bogaerts went from hitting .304 through 5/31, to .248 by the end of June, .244 after his last game in July, all the way down to .224 by the last day of August.

Bogaerts would hit .313 that September and finish with a .240 average -- but more importantly, an appreciation of what he’d experienced.

“That definitely helped me become a better person, a better player -- and understanding from that and learning,” Bogaerts said.

From that experience, he gained a better understanding of the importance of maintaining a consistent day-to-day routine.

“That has to stay the same,” Bogaerts said without question in his voice. “The league adjusted, they adjusted to me. It kind of took a longer time to adjust to them. They’ve just been pitching me so differently compared to other years.”

Bogaerts has had the point reinforced to him throughout, with Red Sox assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez serving as one voice of reinforcement.

“When you have a routine from the mental side, physical side, when you struggle that’s when you really need that,” Rodriguez said. “He’s been so good with his daily preparation, it doesn’t matter the result of the game. He can always go to something that feels comfortable.”

“He’s been so comfortable and confident with his daily routine and preparation that it allows him -- when he doesn’t get the results he wants in the game -- to have some peace knowing that the next day, we’re going to go back to doing that again.”

It’s clear Bogaerts needs to maintain his daily routine to help work through slumps -- and maintain hot streaks -- but Rodriguez made it clear, consistent preparation from a hitter doesn’t magically cure every problem.

“That doesn’t mean that because you stick with the routine you’re going to have results,” Rodriguez said. “What it means is, [because] you know and believe in that routine that you know you’re going to get out of it.”

Which means in addition to sticking to his normal routine, Bogaerts also had to identify flaws elsewhere in order work through his problems. He came to realize the problem was more mechanically based than mental -- given he’d done everything to address that.

“They pitched me differently, and some stuff I wanted to do with the ball I couldn’t do,” Bogaerts said. “I just continued doing it until I had to make the adjustment back.”

Bogaerts isn’t fully out of the dark, but he’s taken steps in the right direction of late -- and is nowhere near the skid he experienced in 2014. He and Rodriguez fully believe the All-Star’s ability to maintain a clear mind will carry him through whatever troubles he’s presented with the rest of the way.

“The more stuff you have in you’re head is probably not going to help your chances,” Bogaerts explained, “so have a clear mind -- but also have the trust in your swing that you’re going to put a good swing on [the pitch] regardless of whatever the count is.”

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays

 

QUOTES:

"Rick has been the model of consistency.'' - John Farrell on starter Rick Porcello

"It means that we have a heck of a team, really. The runs we put up, and I don't think anybody talks about our defense.'' - Porcello, asked about the significance of being baseball's first 18-game winner.

"It's cool to be a part of that, but we're in a race right now and that's way more important.'' - Mookie Betts on the crowd chants of "MVP!" during his at-bat.

 

NOTES

* Hanley Ramirez has nine extra-base hit in the last 15 games.

* Opposing baserunners have stolen only 54 percent of the time when Sandy Leon is behind the plate, the lowest figure for any Red Sox catcher (minimum 20 games) since 1987

* Brock Holt tied a season high with three hits, including two with two outs and runners in scoring position.

* Mookie Betts set a career high with 72 extra-base hits.

* Betts became the third player in franchise history to have a 30-homer season before the age of 24. Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro are the others.

* Betts has five homers and 13 RBI in his last five home games.

* Rick Porcello is just the fifth major league pitcher since 1913 to begin a season 13-0 at home

* Porcello is the third Red Sox pitcher to win 18 of his first 21 decisions after Cy Young (1902) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2008)

* David Ortiz leads the majors in doubles, slugging percentage and OPS.

 

STARS:

1) Rick Porcello

The righthander became the first 18-game winner in the big leagues and he did it by supplying seven innings for the sixth straight start while improving to 13-0 at home.

2) Mookie Betts

Betts gave the Red Sox an early lead with his 30th homer of the year, becoming the third player in franchise history to reach that milestone before the age of 24.

3) Travis Shaw

Shaw broke out of a month-long slump with a three-hit game, including a double, to go along with two RBI.