PAWTUCKET – Now that Mauro Gomez has acquired a taste of life as a big-league third baseman, the real work can begin.
First things first, though, as Gomez plans to acquire a glove that’s tailor made for someone entrusted with patrolling the hot corner. After that, the next step will entail the 27-year-old working specifically on his footwork with throwing across the diamond serving as the final hurdle.
Such a to-do list sheds some light on the stance the Red Sox are adopting with Gomez, which is to let the slugger get his feet wet instead of going through a trial-and-error approach that defined his recent stint with the parent club. As PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler relayed Tuesday, the bulk of Gomez’s reps at third base will come during lower pressure settings, i.e. early work drills or whenever a coach sends grounders in his direction during batting practice.
“He won’t play much but we’ll definitely turn up the intensity as far as his third-base work goes,” noted Beyeler, who already has a pretty dependable third-base option in veteran Andy LaRoche. “We want him to improve on his reads.”
Due to inexperience – three years had elapsed since his last game at third base – Gomez was charged with three errors in 11 chances during the five games he saw time there while with Boston. The main reason why Gomez was forced to patrol what had to be foreign territory was due to the hamstring tightness that sidelined Will Middlebrooks the week leading up to the All-Star break.
“All he’s being asked to do is make the routine play,” said Beyeler. “He’s a hard-working kid, so he’s going to go about it the correct way.”
Gomez was not in Pawtucket’s lineup Tuesday, his MIA status likely tied to the health of David Ortiz. The team leader in home runs (20) and RBI (57), Gomez figures to be a prime candidate to replace Ortiz should Boston end up putting the DH on the disabled list.
It’s worth noting that Gomez – farmed out last Saturday in order to make room for pitcher Clay Buchholz – would bypass the 10-day moratorium period that minor leaguers must adhere to prior to becoming eligible for recall, given his status of potentially replacing an injured player.
“The first time he came back, he said, “It’s really nice up there, real nice. I’ve got to get back,’” said Beyeler. “He’s going to get more opportunities due to his versatility and his ability to swing the bat.”
EXTRA BASES: Ryan Kalish missed his fourth consecutive game Tuesday, though the outfielder took a major step forward when he played long toss under the watchful eye of Pawtucket trainer Jon Jochim prior to batting practice. Kalish hasn’t played since jamming his knee while making a highlight-reel catch in center field last Friday night. … PETA has compiled a list of the Top 10 Vegetarian-Friendly Minor League Ballparks with McCoy Stadium making the cut. In fact, McCoy was one of three International League venues to get singled out, joining Frontier Field (Rochester) and Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Here’s the exact praise McCoy received via author Michelle Sherrow: “The PawSox returned to the top 10 with a fury after a long absence, hitting a grand slam with dishes like hummus and pita chips, a fresh-cut veggie tray, fruit salad, fried green-bean straws, vegetable crudités, a garden or tossed salad, veggie dogs, and veggie burgers.” … The first 4,000 fans in attendance for Wednesday’s Pawtucket-Syracuse clash will receive a team cap. The pitching matchup will be Billy Buckner (1-4, 6.80) twirling for the PawSox with the Chiefs countering with Jeff Mandel (0-2, 2.05).