Q&A with Indians catcher Yan Gomes
Indians catcher Yan Gomes joined the Cleveland media on a conference call Friday to discuss winning an American League Silver Slugger Award, among other topics. Here are some of Gomes’ thoughts on MVP-candidate Michael Brantley, Cy Young-candidate Corey Kluber and more.
Q: What was it like to take home a Silver Slugger Award and me nominated for a Gold Glove after your first full season as the Indians’ starting catcher?
Gomes: “It really just sums up a pretty eventful year. From signing a contract to having my baby and even to some of the downs. … Oh my gosh. To end the year like that is pretty amazing. It’s pretty nice right now.”
Q: How happy were you to share winning a Silver Slugger with Michael Brantley?
Gomes: “Honestly, I’m so, so freakin’ thrilled for Mike, man. He had an unreal year and to be recognized as an MVP Award candidate and, to me, the Silver Slugger for him was just a hand’s down thing. He had an amazing year. I credit him a lot for me having the year I had. Seeing him in front of me, he kind of set the tone for the lineup. That helped me out a lot.”
Q: Did you learn from your early defensive struggles?
Gomes: ‘Absolutely. That was the point I made to you guys in the middle of the year, or at the beginning of the year when that was going on. I told you guys my aggressiveness wasn’t going to go away. Maybe I just needed to be a little smarter with my decisions and not be undisciplined. I think towards the middle and at the end of the year, I got a little bit more disciplined with my attempts and it definitely helped. I credit [first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr.] and [bullpen coach Kevin Cash] a lot for that. They helped me out a ton with that.”
Q: What helped you stay so consistent offensively?
Gomes: “Definitely the more consistent at-bats, and [manager Terry Francona] telling me that I needed to just worry about my defense and carrying the pitching staff. I think that definitely helped me relax at the plate. There’d be times when if I struggled at the plate for a couple at-bats, I would be able to help the team out defensively, and then [help] that last at-bat. I’d let all the at-bats go and somehow I’d have a good at-bat and I’d try to make a difference. Just being able to relax and not worry so much about the hitting part, I think that helped.”
Q: Was there a point early on this season when you began to relax more?
Gomes: “It’s usually the other way around, I hear. You get a contract, you’re able to relax. I definitely put a little more pressure on myself early in the year and then my wife and I talked, we just relaxed. No matter what happens now, in a way, the contract’s still going to be there. They can’t take it away because I start to suck or something. So, I just started to relax and started to enjoy the game the same way I did before, and then just let that hunger stay in there. I told Tito, ‘That’s something I promise will never go away.'”
Q: Are you excited to find out where Corey Kluber falls in Cy Young voting next week?
Gomes: “Absolutely, man. I’ve been in touch with him a couple times this week and several times this offseason, just talking about how amazing his year was. You know what? If he doesn’t get the hardware, which I think would be [upsetting], I think he needs to be still really thrilled and honored with the kind of year that he had. I might be biased, I think it’s a hands-down thing for him. The way he carried that pitching staff, especially stepping up when they traded [Justin] Masterson, who was a big core guy in our [rotation]. I think he definitely helped out.”
Q: Is there an outing by Kluber that sticks out to you the most?
Gomes: “Even though it didn’t go his way at the end, that outing against Kansas City [on July 24]. You see they’re definitely a World Series-caliber team. He shut them out for nine innings, even though we ended up going to extras and losing it. I think that was definitely a great outing. And his last outings throughout the year. The Cy Young talk started getting a little louder for him. some guys will let the pressure hit them and they’ll go down. I think once the Cy Young talk started happening, I think he stepped up and did even better. He was pretty unreal his last three outings.”
Q: What was it like to see Kansas City in the postseason?
Gomes: “It was almost like I was so jealous. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, man.’ Not to take anything away from Kansas City. After we played them, and I think we were almost on the brink of being eliminated, I talked to a couple of their players and was like, ‘Look, you guys are the team to beat in the playoffs. You guys are going to be a tough team to beat,’ just because of the way they played. They had a pretty unbelievable bullpen and they got guys on and moved guys over and scored. Once you get to the World Series, those little runs count. I just felt like it showed that we’re right there, too.”
Q: Do you have hopes for what the team can do this offseason? Can the core group in place get it done?
Gomes: “Well, that’s kind of out of my job description. I just show up and be ready to play with whoever we’re there with. But I think the core group of guys that we have are guys that have had two- or three-year experience with each other, and I think we’re going to keep building from that.”
Q: What was your reaction to seeing Francona sign his contract extension?
Gomes: “That just shows the commitment that the guy has for us. It’s almost like he didn’t even have to do that. He was willing to. I talked to him after the extension happened and I’m just thrilled. I think he told me he’s going to be there for my whole contract. It’s exciting. That guy, he’s helped me a ton throughout the early part of my career. I’m very thankful for that and excited that he’s going to be there for a while.”