Gomez fitting in nicely in short time with club

Outfielder establishing leadership role, keeping things loose in spring

March 14th, 2018

BRADENTON, Fla., -- is fitting in nicely with the Rays. Just ask manager Kevin Cash.

"Probably haven't talked about him enough," Cash said. "The signing came late. But he might be the perfect mix for this club. Super high energy. A lot of positivity. I think he's going to keep some guys in check, just the way he goes out and plays hard every day. And he's a really good player. This is a guy who has a track record of having success at the big league level."

On March 3, the Rays finalized terms with the veteran outfielder on a one-year, $4 million deal with another $500,000 in incentives.

Gomez, 32, hit .255/.340/.462 with 17 home runs, 51 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 105 games for the Rangers last season. His 17 homers were his most since 2014 (23), and his 21.65 AB/HR ratio was the best of his career. He's penciled in to play right field for the Rays this season.

Cash allowed that Gomez has been "outstanding" in the clubhouse.

"[] said the other day how awesome he's been," Cash said. "I mean, you see him, you can't knock the smile off his face. He's always in a good mood. I walked in this morning with him from the parking lot, and he's ready to go.

"I talked to him about his comfort. Where he hits in the lineup. Where he's hit in the past ... back and forth, and he's basically said put me wherever, I'm good. ... Once we get the season underway he's going to help us in many ways."

Gomez doubled home the Rays' first run of Wednesday's 9-3 win against the Pirates.

"Spring Training is for pitchers," Gomez said. "Everybody knows it. The pitchers need time to build their arms. But I think position players, I've been doing this so long, in 2 1/2 weeks you're ready to play in the big league game. I'm in the right time, right now. We still have 13 or 14 games to play. We're talking about 20 to 30 at-bats. ... So I'm fine and I'm glad to be here."

Worth noting

• Dan Jennings and stayed behind at Port Charlotte, Fla., to pitch against Class A Red Sox affiliates. Jennings allowed no runs and a hit, while striking out four in 1 2/3 innings. Kittredge allowed no runs and no hits, while striking out five in two innings.

Cash noted that Jennings and Kittredge are wild cards, explaining that they can be one-inning guys, or they can try to stretch them out a little, and see how they recover. That recovery time will be critical given the Rays' decision to have bullpen days to cover a fifth starter's spot during the regular season.

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• Jake Faria, who has struggled this spring (0-2, 16.62 ERA in three starts), threw a bullpen on Wednesday. Cash did not sound concerned about the right-hander, who will be one of the team's four starters.

"No. No. Jake's fine," Cash said. "Every camp has pitchers that struggle, don't look the part. Jake's going to figure it out. We have full confidence he'll get stuff in order. A couple of tweaks here and there, and he'll be fine."

• Alex Colome had a strong outing Wednesday, pitching a scoreless fourth. The Rays' closer speculated that he'll have three or four more outings, and he'll be ready for the season. "We'll see," Colome said.

Camp battles

started on Wednesday afternoon, and allowed a run on three hits and a walk, while striking out six. The right-hander is right in the mix to earn a spot in the bullpen.

"With the four starters they have already, just competing for a bullpen spot," said Chirinos through team interpreter Manny Navarro. "If they want me to start, I can start, whatever they need me to do.

"...Depending on where they decide to play me -- starter or reliever -- I'm going to compete and do the best of my abilities at either spot."

Injury update

Brad Miller (fractured right pinky toe) will play first base in a Minor League game Thursday at Port Charlotte, and is expected to get four or five at-bats.

"With Brad Miller getting back on the field tomorrow, that's a good sign," Cash said.

Up next

The Rays will host the Twins Thursday afternoon in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest at Charlotte Sports Park. will start for the Rays. Also expected to see action are , , , , and .