Fiery Gomez will 'play anywhere' to help Rays

March 6th, 2018

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- met with reporters on Tuesday morning, the first time he's done so since the Rays and the veteran outfielder finalized terms Saturday on a one-year, $4 million deal with another $500,000 in incentives.

"I'm excited to play anywhere," said Gomez about joining the Rays. "It's what I love. But now a new role, I play right field. You have three center fielders playing the outfield. , and me, [which] makes your job easy. More easy when you have the kind of center fielder like Kiermaier is."

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Gomez 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.

Gomez said that he still has plenty of baseball left in the tank, citing the fact the Rays thought enough of his abilities to pay him $4 million. But why did the 32-year-old pick the Rays?

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"I was looking for a job," Gomez said. "It's a challenge. They have a lot of young guys. I like to help. ... It's close to home, too."

Gomez, who hails from Santiago, Dominican Republic, was delayed getting to camp due to visa issues. The process was slowed further by the curiously slow free-agent market.

"I liked being home, but in my case, I'm not ready mentally and physically to stay at home yet," Gomez said. "I was supposed to be in Spring Training three weeks ago. But in my case I got here only a few days ago. But I'm ready."

Though Gomez has primarily played center field throughout his career, he has no problems going to right field with the Rays.

"I mean, I'll play anywhere," Gomez said. "If they want me to play first, I'll play first. I'm an athlete. What I want is to win and keep this team rolling."

As far as some of the less-than-flattering opinions about the Rays this spring, Gomez said time will tell what kind of team they have in 2018.

"I only have like two days here, but what I can say is we're 25 guys who belong to play at this level," Gomez said. "We don't care what other people say. What other people expect. We know what we can do. We still have 19 or 20 games of Spring Training to get everything together to start the season. The season will tell how good we are."

Gomez is known to be a headache of a player to opposing teams, while being beloved by his teammates. He doesn't have a problem with that perception.

"That's what you want," Gomez said. "I don't want the other team to love me. I want them to hate me. They hate me because I do my job right. I'm here for my teammates, my coaches, my staff.

"Sometimes opponents do not like that, 'Oh, he comes with more energy. You strike him out, and next time he comes with more energy more enthusiasm, more angry.' It's how I learned to play the game, and I'm going to continue to [play that way]. ... If I do something wrong, I get it. But I'm not going to let anybody mess with me, you know."

Manager Kevin Cash likes what Gomez brings to the team.

"Huge legit player for us," Cash said.

As for Gomez's feistiness ...

"You just look at a guy who plays the game really passionately," Cash said. "When he gets a hold of one, he likes to show it. But the thing I like about him, every time he hits a ground ball, he busts it down the line. And when he's running down balls in the gap, he always gives a good throw to the cutoff man. He's out there, he does little things to win ballgames."