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Gomes remembers time with Toronto fondly

CLEVELAND -- Hours before the Indians hosted the Blue Jays on Friday, Indians catcher Yan Gomes headed to the field during an early round of batting practice to chat with a few of his former Toronto teammates. Gomes will always cherish the brief stint he had north of the border.

Gomes debuted with the Blue Jays in 2012, but Toronto then traded him, along with infielder Mike Aviles, to the Indians in exchange for pitcher Esmil Rogers on Nov. 3 that year. In 2013, Gomes emerged as Cleveland's everyday catcher and he earned a six-year, $23 million extension at the start of this season.

"I'm extremely happy being here in Cleveland," Gomes said on Friday. "It's not just from being the starting catcher. I love this team. I love the way they've treated me here. But I've got a lot to thank from Toronto, man. They're the ones who called me up. They're the ones who gave me the chance to play professional baseball.

"They're always going to have a special place. They're the ones who gave me that opportunity and trusted me right from the beginning. Even from that trade, I don't think I even had enough time to say it was a bad thing or anything. It was just a part of the business. I moved on and I'm excited to be here in Cleveland now."

At the time of the trade, the Blue Jays still had a pair of promising catchers -- J.P. Arencibia and Travis d'Arnaud -- above Gomes on the depth chart. Both catchers are with different teams now, but at that point in time, Toronto viewed Gomes as a utility player. He bounced between first and third base, caught some and played a little outfield for the Jays.

"I wasn't a [full-time] catcher then," Gomes said. "I was an anywhere kind-of-guy. From that first year in 2012, I was looking to be a super utility guy for my career. I was excited for just being a part of a team. They called me up and it was definitely a neat experience being up there in Toronto. I learned from it."

Gomes -- the first Brazilian-born player to reach the Major Leagues -- also enjoyed playing in Toronto due to it being such a multi-cultural city.

"And I'm a multi-cultural guy," he said with a laugh. "It couldn't have worked out more perfect. They're the only team out of the country and I was the first player from a different country. It was exciting. They welcomed me in really well."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.
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