Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 6/29/13
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.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

John Gillon’s winning shot helps Syracuse students in classroom

Vikings GM won’t commit to Adrian Peterson

Report: Ryan Tannehill’s knee healed, ready for OTAs

Rose complains about triangle offense as trade rumors swirl

Joel Embiid to miss next four games for 76ers

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Vince Young attempting to trademark ‘Make Vince Great Again’

Report: Mavericks get Nerlens Noel in trade with 76ers

NASCAR announces four drivers will lend their voices to 'Cars 3'

Draymond Green video game highlights his groin-shot past

Paul George trade unlikely despite interest from Lakers and Celtics

Report: David Ortiz could join Red Sox broadcast team this season

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

Box Score 2/23: Gillon's buzzer-beater blast for the win

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

Box Score 2/22: Not everyone is happy with the new intentional walk rule

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win the MVP award

Teams, players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker