Gregarious Gomez fits right in with Astros
Fiers to be activated Saturday, will join rotation
HOUSTON -- After he finished with a gaggle of reporters in his new clubhouse, Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez sought out Pat Neshek, an old nemesis in Gomez's National League Central days.
"I'm so glad I don't have to face you anymore," Gomez yelled, hugging the former Cardinals reliever whose held Gomez hitless in six career plate appearances.
Gomez moved to Jose Altuve, whom he'd been texting all day, to get a hug. Another texting buddy, Marwin Gonzalez, is Gomez's locker neighbor.
"I don't think he's going to have a problem fitting in," Houston manager A.J. Hinch quipped before Friday's 6-4, 10-inning loss to the D-backs.
Hinch plans to find out immediately, starting Gomez in center field and hitting in the two-hole for Friday's series opener against Arizona. Before the game, the Astros optioned Jon Singleton to Triple A-Fresno to make room for Gomez.
Gomez arrived at Minute Maid Park nearly 24 hours after he was acquired by the American League West leaders and two days removed from a possible trade to the Mets that fell apart at the last minute due to unknown medical issues raised by the Mets.
"I think I got no problem here," Gomez said. "They check everything that the Mets check. I don't know why they dropped this, I don't want to talk about it. It's not my job. My job is play and have fun. And I come for the team in first place. [The Mets] are in second place. So I have more chance to win here."
The two-time All-Star center fielder was carefree in a nine-minute conversation with reporters, discussing his three small children, his affinity for domed stadiums -- he's now played in one at all three of his Major League stops -- and even how he always feels sexy.
It's an attitude that jibes well in an Astros clubhouse where an intense video game competition is a daily occurrence, while fog machines and strobe lights make appearances after every win to form "Club Astro."
"Everybody says the same thing about him, he's got an electrifying personality, he's high energy," Hinch said. "I think the style of play fits the loose style of play that we play with. He can bring it in every aspect of the game, so in that regard he fits in perfectly."
Gomez told Hinch upon meeting him Friday he has no qualms about being moved from center field and was willing to play the corners if it meant putting a winning product on the field, immediately endearing him to the skipper.
Hinch also met with Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick to communicate how he plans to shuffle an overcrowded outfield that Hinch believes, when healthy, could be among the most dynamic in the league.
"I think [Marisnick] does a terrific job in the outfield," Hinch said. "He's had a couple good games recently. He's going to help us win. He's going to move around a little bit. More so than he has before Carlos got here ... He's willing to do anything. He wants to be a part of a winning culture and a winning team."
A culture Gomez thinks his presence will only elevate.
"They play with passion, everyone looks like they take care of each other," Gomez said. "I come here and I'm the same type of player. I think we're going to fit right and we're going to shock the world."
Fiers to be activated Saturday
The Astros' other addition from the Brewers, starter Mike Fiers, will be activated Saturday, though Hinch said the weekend rotation will remain the same and he'd make a decision on when Fiers would pitch after meeting with him.
Fiers will be considered a starter, though, giving the Houston rotation six arms, which doesn't necessarily mean a six-man rotation will be put in place, according to Hinch, who is already thinking of ways to conserve innings for rookie phenom and rotation staple Lance McCullers.
"I caution us calling it a six-man or feeling like we're going to just rotate every six days, because that's not how we're going to do it but we're going to be very cognizant of McCullers' innings," Hinch said. "We've already said that about [Vince] Velasquez. We want to keep our guys in rhythm with [Scott] Kazmir, [Dallas] Keuchel and [Scott] Feldman and [Collin] McHugh. So, again, having too many starters isn't a big deal."