Intangibles earning Gomes extra playing time

Intangibles earning Gomes extra playing time
October 14, 2013, 10:15 pm
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DETROIT -- Ordinarily, matched against a righthander, the Red Sox would be ready to put switch-hitting Daniel Nava back into the lineup for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series Tuesday afternoon.
      
The Sox can use every advantage they can get against Detroit starters, having collected exactly two hits in 13 innings of them so far.
      
But rather than playing the percentages against Justin Verlander, their Game 3 opponent, the Sox seem closer to playing hunches.
      
In meeting with the media Monday, manager John Farrell indicated that while Mike Napoli would return to first base -- after Mike Carp got a start there Sunday night against righthander Max Scherzer -- he was likely to keep Jonny Gomes in left over Nava, who performs far better from the left side of the plate.
      
"The one thing that we can't fully measure," said Farrell, "is the intangibles that Jonny Gomes brings. That's another thing that's being factored in here and considered."
       
Farrell lauded Gomes as someone who "has an opportunity to make something happen inside of a game. And I think that one thing that may be under the radar with Jonny is he's a smart player. Much like we talked about with the will to success on (Dustin Pedroia's) part, it's very similar with Jonny.
       
"So he can bring an overall personality to a team when he's in the lineup, versus when he's (just) in the dugout. These are the things at this point in time in the year I think you have to consider strongly, with the attitude and the makeup that we present on the field."
       
Gomes has long been considered a strong leader on whichever team he's on, and his first season in Boston is no different in that regard.
       
After the Patriots Day bombing at the Boston Marathon rocked the city and region, it was Gomes who came up with the idea of "Boston Strong," hanging a uniform with the city's area code in the dugout nightly as a tribute to the victims.
       
It was Gomes's beard in spring training which served as the template for a unifying fashion statement throughout the clubhouse.
       
And though he's far from the fastest player on the team, Gomes is widely regarded by the Red Sox coaching staff as the team's best baserunner.
       
On both Opening Day and again in the Division Series against Tampa, Gomes managed to score from second base on a ground ball that never left the infield.
      
It was probably not entirely a coincidence that Gomes also managed to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth Sunday, capping the Red Sox' thrilling 6-5 comeback over the Tigers.
      
After topping a weak roller to the left of the mound, Gomes burst down the line and slid in safely -- head first, of course -- to first. When shortstop Jose Iglesias's throw bounced and couldn't be corralled by first baseman Prince Fielder, Gomes stood on second.
      
From there, Gomes advanced to third on a wild pitch from Rick Porcello and scored on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's single to left, touching off a wild celebration.
      
But before he had advanced to third on the wild pitch, Gomes went back to tag up at second when Fielder chased a ball near the first base camera well. The ball fell into the crowd when Fielder couldn't or wouldn't fight off a fan for the ball.
      
Had it been caught, though, Gomes said Monday he was readying to move to third base by tagging up on a ball that wasn't hit 120 feet from home plate.