Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brandon Gomes has a future in Rays' bullpen

Brandon Gomes has allowed just two runs in nine innings, with nine strikeouts and no walks this spring.

LARA CERRI | Times (2012)

Brandon Gomes has allowed just two runs in nine innings, with nine strikeouts and no walks this spring.

PORT CHARLOTTE — In an exuberant and often quirky Rays clubhouse, reliever Brandon Gomes is the quieter type.

Gomes, 28, will bury his head in the latest thrilling historical novel by Ken Follett, expecting to finish Fall of Giants in the next few weeks. In his downtime, he'll catch up on his crosswords.

Gomes, a Tulane graduate, thought about attending law school, taking the LSAT after one of his first minor-league seasons. He said he scored in the 68th percentile, which would have got him into some "pretty good" schools.

"It was just a backup plan," Gomes said, smiling. "It's probably a non-issue now."

That's because Gomes has a future in the Rays bullpen, having established himself over parts of the past two seasons. Gomes may not be there on opening day, even though he had a terrific spring. He's likely the odd man out to veteran right-hander Jamey Wright.

But Gomes, healthy and confident, expects to impact Tampa Bay at some point this season, having regained the health and form that he showed in a spectacular September as a rookie in 2011. He has allowed two runs in 101/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks this spring, leading manager Joe Maddon to say he has had one of the best camps.

"He's going to be such a big part of what we're going to do this year — and in the future," Maddon said. "Beyond his skills, this guy is such a great teammate, everybody loves having him there. If you take the Brandon Gomeses of the world, if in fact they don't make a team coming out of spring training, they will impact, and when their time comes, they stay for a long time."

Gomes attributed his strong spring to a regular offseason of training. He had back surgery before the 2012 season, when he battled inconsistencies in five different stints with the Rays. He said he didn't feel the same life behind the ball until September, when he allowed just one run in five outings.

"I feel great," Gomes said. "I'm feeling as good as I ever felt, if not better. It's just another year of experience under my belt. And I have a little more confidence from starting to understand the game better, talking to different pitchers and all the guys on staff on how to attack hitters."

Though Gomes, just 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, doesn't reach the high 90s with his fastball, he has never been afraid of going after guys. There are stories of his high school days in Fall River, Mass., when Gomes would tell hitters he was throwing a fastball — then whip it by them.

"When I've thrown well, and when I've struggled a bit, that's really the main factor is I stay aggressive and not worrying so much about making the perfect pitch, but attacking hitters," Gomes said.

Gomes said he has believed he belonged since late in his rookie year in 2011, when — pitching in a pennant race — he finished with 11 straight scoreless appearances. "That's a lot of experience for a first-year guy," he said. "That was huge."

The Rays appear to be leaning toward keeping Wright (6.30 ERA), having to tell the sinkerballer by today's deadline whether they're putting him on 25-man roster (or DL), release him or pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to go to the minors.

But Gomes doesn't worry about the "outside factors," concentrating on his pitching, or flipping pages in his book.

"When I'm working, I'm working, whether it be prior to the game or on the mound," Gomes said. "And, other than that, have a good time. This clubhouse promotes that."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com

Brandon Gomes has a future in Rays' bullpen 03/25/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 25, 2013 9:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jameis Winston as HBO star: 'I can't compete with Jon Snow'

    Blogs

    This morning marks the official start of training camp for the Bucs, with veterans reporting today, two days after rookies, preparing for Friday morning's first practice.

    Bucs QB Jameis Winston made a live appearance from One Buc Place on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" on Thursday as veteran players report for training camp.
  2. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  3. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi goes on 10-day DL with back strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi is hoping his struggles this season can be tied directly to the lower-back strain he has tried to pitch through since spring training. Toward that end, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to Tuesday.

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  4. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]