Gomez: Rangers suit me best
Outfielder resurged with Texas after release by Astros.
Carlos Gomez would play any posi- tion for the Texas Rangers. The outfielder just wouldn’t want to play for any other team.
“It’s no question, I’m on the right team,” Gomez said. “I decided to come back this year again because I think that was the best, the smart, move for me. It’s the best choice.”
After a resurgent six weeks late last season, filling a need for the Rangers and regaining his confidence at the plate, Gomez returned with an $11.5 million contract early in the offseason.
Before that, things were so miserable that Gomez was released by the Houston Astros in late August after hitting .210 with five homers and 29 RBIs in 85 games. The Rangers, needing help in the outfield after Shin-Shoo Choo broke his left arm, signed Gomez to a deal two days later, and he was back in the majors within a week.
While working on swing changes with Rangers coaches, he hit .284 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games.
“Unbelievable, what I think is a rough season, and then finish like that,” said Gomez, now 31 and going into his 11th big league season. “I’m more excited to come back and play a full year with the Rangers.”
While a small sample, .284 was also his exact batting average in both 2013 and 2014 with the Milwaukee Brewers when he was twice an All-Star. He hit .361 with three homers and nine RBIs in 14 spring training games in Arizona, finish- ing with two hits as the desig- nated hitter Wednesday after missing a week with a jammed shoulder.
Gomez played mostly left field for the closing stretch last season as the Rangers won the AL West title, but this season will be the primary center fielder after AllStar Ian Desmond left in free agency. He won a Gold Glove in 2013 while playing center for the Brewers.
Asked how much he looked forward to being back in cen- ter field, Gomez responded, “It’s not about me anymore.” He said he’s flexible to what- ever manager Jeff Banister needs him to do in the field or at the plate.
“When you start getting older and more veteran, you just want to be in the right place where you can enjoy it every single time,” Gomez said. “This is a perfect team: You can get a championship, and you can enjoy every single game, every single moment.”
Gomez also wanted to keep working with hitting coach Anthony Iapoce and assistant hitting coach Justin Mashore after all they did to help him. Mashore even went to visit Gomez at his home in the Dominican Republic for a week during the winter to keep working on the adjust- ments.
“I learned something that I never had in the past: being able to work with some coach there to take my ability to another level,” Gomez said.
While Gomez is still swing- ing hard, don’t anticipate seeing him fall down or have his helmet fly off his head when he does now. Even though he has a hard time explaining the changes, he said the big- gest thing is being ready and in the right position to make his best swing.