BOSTON — The Red Sox’ 2013 machine functioned perfectly, and Jonny Gomes deserves a lot of the credit.
Gomes said upon signing with the Red Sox last offseason that he wanted to be the “grease that runs the machine.” While Gomes wasn’t an All-Star or the team’s best player in 2013, the veteran outfielder absolutely was instrumental in changing the Red Sox’ clubhouse culture. Gomes said Wednesday that the Red Sox will look to keep rolling in 2014, with him once again serving as “the grease.”
“I still would love that title,” Gomes said. “I always say, if you were to look at my numbers at the end of the year, that doesn’t justify even one-tenth of the fingerprint I put on the season.”
Gomes is right. The 33-year-old, playing for his fifth organization, hit .247 with 13 homers, 52 RBIs and a .344 on-base percentage in 116 regular-season games before then hitting .167 (7-for-42) in the postseason. Those numbers hardly jump off the page, but Gomes’ flair for the dramatic and hard-nosed style of play — as well as his beard — morphed him into a cult hero in Boston.
Gomes, who is entering the second season of a two-year, $10 million contract, likely will play a similar role both on and off the field in 2014. He’ll likely split time with Daniel Nava in left field while trying to provide a spark whenever possible.
“I can’t prepare for playing time, but what I can do is prepare to be healthy for 162 [games],” Gomes said. “… I made it all year [in 2013] without getting hurt, even though I think I kind of brought an interesting aspect of playing defense against that [Fenway Park] wall.”
Gomes’ “interesting defense” involved frequently banging into the Green Monster, rattling the scoreboard numbers in the process. At the plate, Gomes’ immense power was on display, particularly in clutch situations. His most memorable moment came in Game 4 of the World Series, when Gomes, playing in place of an injured Shane Victorino, delivered a three-run homer that propelled the Red Sox to victory.
“I hit behind [David Ortiz] in the World Series. I mean, that’s got to say something for what the organization thinks about you a little bit,” Gomes said Wednesday. “At the same time, I work out with Daniel Nava every single day. I don’t know if I’m splitting time with him or not [in 2014]. I’ve just got to be ready when No. 5 is called, and that’s what I’ll do.”
The Red Sox’ machine didn’t slow down in 2013. The same could be true for 2014 as long as Gomes keeps greasing the skids.