Gomes make his presence felt in Fenway return
BOSTON -- Jonny Gomes had been waiting for this moment for a long time.
Playing in Fenway Park for the first time since leaving the Red Sox last season, the Braves' left fielder made a vintage diving catch in the fourth inning of Monday's 4-2 victory, sprinting and fully extending his body across the outfield grass to rob Dustin Pedroia of a leadoff hit.
"Dive for it, you get the out," Gomes said. "Worst-case scenario, you dive for it, you got the wall right there so it's going to be a double. Or you just take the angle and give him the double. So it worked out."
The return left Gomes sifting through some bittersweet memories.
On one hand, Gomes had returned to the same ballpark where he and his former Red Sox teammates captured the 2013 World Series with a decisive Game 6 win over the Cardinals. He hit 13 home runs and 52 RBIs in 116 games that season while asserting himself as a leader in the clubhouse, and the 34,439 in attendance recognized thanked him with applause during his first at-bat.
"That's awesome," Gomes said. "I've been in a couple of organizations. I always thought that was cool when an opposing players comes back and you get that standing ovation. It's pretty cool when the fans appreciate."
On the veteran's last day in Boston, however, he wound up as part of the package the A's received in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes.
"The one thing that kind of sticks out is I got traded on a day off, so I truly didn't get a chance to say good-byes, if you will," Gomes said. "I've played on enough teams, [so] you know how to make the adjustment and all that. A lot of these guys I haven't seen since I left."
Before the game, Gomes had some catching up to do. He ate dinner with first baseman Mike Napoli after the Braves arrived on Sunday night and made a pit-stop in the Boston clubhouse before Monday night's series opener.
The conversations were friendly, though Gomes certainly had no intentions of talking shop with his former teammates.
"I'm not here to give advice by any means," Gomes said. "There's a lot of good friends in that clubhouse, even on the staff, but I wear a different uniform now. I'm here to hopefully put two more losses in their loss column. The bond that we build and the ring that we have says 2013. It's 2015.
"Not that I have any answers, by any means. But when I see them, it's, 'How's the fam?' Things like that. I'm not trying to get David Ortiz's swing right."
The Braves, however, certainly relied on Gomes' experience during the first leg of their home-and-home series against the Sox. In fact, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he started Gomes in left field for precisely that reason. "He's been pumped up for the whole year, since Spring Training began, for him to play these two games," Gonzalez said. "There was no way in hell he was going to let me not play him these next two games. He goes out and makes a tremendous catch in left field."
"You can only hope to tame it," Gomes said of the Monster. "You can't run through it, I tried that a few times. You just gotta know it's back there to help you out, not hurt you."