Yan Gomes is the player every baseball manager wants. Works hard, doesn’t complain and does his job well.
Known as the 51s’ jack-of-all-trades, the Brazilian just wants to play in the big leagues, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to get there.
Gomes is a catcher by trade, but has found himself playing the infield corners more often than not this season.
“I don’t mind it at all,” said Gomes, 24, who started at first base Monday against the Sacramento River Cats, a day after starting at third. “Teams are always going to need a guy who can play different positions. I feel that’s what got me here, so I put a lot of work into it.”
The Toronto Blue Jays, who drafted Gomes in 2009, have taken notice. They called him up for two brief stints this season and played him in the outfield. He opened his major league career by going 2-for-3 against the Yankees on May 17, and batted .211 with three home runs and eight RBIs in 38 plate appearances.
Las Vegas manager Marty Brown said Gomes’ versatility ultimately will carry him a long way.
“Yan has always been open-minded,” Brown said. “He’s always been kind of labeled as a backup player, but he’s a great athlete who is able to move around.”
Gomes demonstrated his versatility in college, playing at every infield position except shortstop at Tennessee, where he was a freshman All-American. He said he still considers himself a catcher, but is not listed as such on the 51s’ roster. Travis d’Arnaud, Luis Hurtado and Paul Phillips occupy those spots on paper.
“Yan’s primary position is still catcher,” Brown said. “But he also does a really good job out on the field.”
Gomes, like his teammates, is waiting for his next opportunity to play in the majors, and he wants the Blue Jays to know he doesn’t plan on being picky.
“If I get called up because of an injury, I’ll play wherever I can,” he said. “You always know it’s going to be a great feeling. It’s what you work for and what you dream about, to be at the highest level of the sport.”
The key to versatility, Gomes said, is preparation.
“You’ve got to work at it,” he said. “You don’t want to get thrown into a position where you’re not ready, especially in the hot corners.”
But Gomes’ bat also has boosted his marketability. After going 1-for-4 with an RBI in Monday’s 9-8 loss at Cashman Field, he is batting .344 with 21 doubles, seven home runs and 32 RBIs.
“Hitting is big,” Gomes said. “If you can hit, you play. But I still take my defense as a more important thing.”
Gomes also hopes for a call to play with the Brazilian national team during the upcoming offseason. Brazil will be vying for its inaugural berth in the World Baseball Classic.SACRAMENTO 9
LAS VEGAS 8
■ KEY: Josh Donaldson hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh, had five RBIs and went 4-for-5.
■ NEXT: River Cats (RHP Dan Straily) at 51s (RHP Shawn Hill), 7:05 p.m. today, KBAD-AM (920)