Mike Napoli has a fan in Jonny Gomes.
Gomes shared a clubhouse with Napoli for the first time this past season, and the outfielder admits that he didn’t know what to expect. It didn’t take long for the pair — and everyone else in the Red Sox’ clubhouse, for that matter — to establish a special bond, though, so Gomes was ecstatic when he found out last week that Napoli had agreed to a new two-year contract to remain in Boston.
“Hopefully like all the other Sox, I jumped for joy when this guy came back,” Gomes said on WEEI’s Mut & Merloni on Monday.
Gomes, who — like Napoli — signed with the Red Sox last offseason, has played with five different organizations during his 11-year career. His career never intertwined with Napoli’s prior to Boston, however, so Gomes was anxious to see what his long-time opponent was all about. The rest is history.
“I played against this guy for a long time, when he came up as a catcher with Anaheim, then over to Texas. I couldn’t really get a good read on him, to tell you the truth,” Gomes said. “[He's] always focused — whether you’re getting in the box and he’s catching or he’s at first, he wouldn’t talk to you. I was so curious to see what I was going to get out of Mike Napoli when I was sharing a clubhouse with him. I had everything, all doors open. I didn’t want to do anything.
“This guy is truly something else. He is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, one of the best competitors I’ve ever had, his work ethic, everything. They talk about championship-caliber players. That’s truly all he has on his mind. I’ve never seen someone in such a good mood after a tough 0-for-4 if we won. It’s team first, team second, team third for him.”
Gomes, who is slated to be a free agent next winter, will share a clubhouse with Napoli for at least one more year. The ultimate goal is still the same and the team’s bond is that much tighter.