Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/8/14
BOSTON — You know the scene from Happy Gilmore when Happy steps into a batting cage and repeatedly takes baseballs off the chest? Jonny Gomes would probably be OK with a similar technique in the batter’s box if it meant a Red Sox win. Fortunately for Gomes — and the children watching who emulate their favorite big league stars — he didn’t need to use that approach on Friday. Instead, Gomes stepped up as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, worked himself into a favorable count, got a pitch he could hit, and came through with a huge RBI single to propel the Red Sox to a 7-5 win over the Blue Jays. “I’m a grinder. I’m willing to take one off the neck for the team,” Gomes said. “You definitely gotta be confident [and] I’m sure [Blue Jays reliever Brett Cecil] was confident too. I think I was more confident than him in that at-bat. I just did what I could for our guy to touch the dish.” Gomes’ self-assessment is spot-on. The term “grinder” really embodies the hustling outfielder, and we’ve seen him demonstrate a willingness to fulfill a number of roles all season. Whether it’s getting the start against a lefty, filling in more consistently in the event of an injury or coming off the bench like he did on Friday, Gomes has been a valuable component — albeit a less glamorous one — of the Red Sox’ success. Gomes’ big hit on Friday came after Andrew Bailey surrendered a game-tying home run to Edwin Encarnacion in the top of the seventh. The Red Sox loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half of the inning, and manager John Farrell, recognizing that Gomes has had success against Brett Cecil in the past, called upon the veteran slugger to pinch hit for Daniel Nava. Gomes responded by working himself into a hitter-friendly, 3-1 count before yanking a single off third baseman Maicer Izturis’ glove and through the left side. “The extra early work that he does, the extra BP he takes, the mindset that he gets into knowing two innings ahead of time we gave him a heads up figuring that Cecil would be a guy in that part of the lineup and knowing the success he’s had against him in the past,” Farrell said. “He’s a veteran that’s been in this role for a number of years and physically and mentally he prepares himself to execute and he did.” Gomes’ pinch-hit heroics have been commonplace this season. He has reached in seven of his 15 plate appearances as a pinch hitter, going 4-for-12 with two home runs, a double and three RBIs. That speaks to the preparation he puts in regardless of what the starting lineup card reads on a given day, and it speaks to the type of player he’s been throughout his career. “I kind of strive and hope that I can get better every day, every month and every year,” Gomes said. “To tell you the truth, where some of my numbers are succeeding right now I might have been able to call rock bottom early on in my career — like really bad at it. That just comes with wanting and having to stick in the big leagues. Some of the things I’ve failed at are starting to turn around now.” Gomes had only played in one of Boston’s previous six games before Friday’s win, but he’s now hitting .333 (13-for-39) in his last 11 games. The 32-year-old understands that each successful at-bat increases the likelihood that he’ll receive more opportunities, although for now, he’s just looking to produce in whatever situation he’s placed in. “I was kinda thinking [about] that at about two o’clock in the afternoon when I got here [to Fenway],” Gomes said of his pinch-hit knock. “A day like today, it’s definitely a team victory. We’ve had plenty of success with guys coming off the bench. We’ve got a deep team, deep bench and we’re all ready.” Gomes can be described in a number of ways. He’s been a clubhouse leader, and he has provided pop off the bench, better-than-advertised defense and above-average baserunning for a guy of his speed. For now, let’s stick with the term “grinder.” It encapsulates everything, including his willingness to take a ball off the neck. Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Wrigley Field bleacher renovation may be delayed

Yankees wanted Rollins but Phillies' price was too high

Pop misses game for medical reasons; Messina takes over

John Beilein upset with ESPN for late start time to game

Tyson Chandler felt like Knicks' scapegoat at times

Fred Jackson has 'no respect' for Donte Whitner

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Devon Still responds to unpaid child support allegations

Diamondbacks sign Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas

Josh Gordon felt alienated by some in Browns organization

Jerry Jones: I'm a big admirer of Robert Griffin III

Raiola fined for uneccesarily striking Pats' Zach Moore

Report: Michigan keeping Jim Hackett on as athletic director

Steelers turned down chance to be called 'America's Team'

Report: Small chance Raiders-Rams could be moved to Indy

Todd Gurley begins rehab after surgery on knee for torn ACL

Brodeur to practice with Blues

OSU player posts Michigan player's girlfriend as his 'WCW'

Jim Harbaugh's family may not eat turkey thanks to NBC

Ole Miss' The Grove threatened by Mississippi State fan

Is it time for the Redskins to move on from Robert Griffin III?

Top 10 fantasy football turkeys for 2014

WATCH: Coyotes lose in ugly fashion, score own goal in OT

Warriors are having tons of fun on team plane

Jenn Sterger hints she'll be back in her FSU cowgirl gear for game

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Wrigley renovation may be delayed

Steelers could have been America's Team

John Beilein upset with ESPN

Should Washington move on from RG3?

Dominic Raiola fined for cheap shots

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Rose leaves with injury again

WATCH: Pierce signs for fan during game

Report: McCoy to start over RG3

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

10 most one-sided college football rivalries

Pierce: C's Big Three like 'Holy Trinity'

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.