Gomes making strides on both sides of ball

CLEVELAND – The injury bug is no stranger to Yan Gomes as it has prevented him from finding consistent playing time behind the dish since April of 2016.

This stagnant period can be attributed to a separated right shoulder (July) and non-displaced right wrist fracture (September) – two injuries that may finally be in Gomes’ rearview mirror.

Now that the veteran catcher is healthy and getting repetitions on a daily basis, he is making an impact on both sides of the ball without having to worry about any nagging pains.

“The catchers have so much impact on the game,” said manager Terry Francona. “There’s so many ways for [Gomes] to help us win besides hitting. I think he’s done a really good job this week. He seems not quite as hard on himself.”

The 29-year-old is batting .600 (9-for-15) with three runs, two doubles and one RBI over his last seven games to plateau at the Mendoza Line (.200/.308/.311) heading into Friday’s series-opener vs. Seattle.

“I do think he is swinging the bat better too,” Francona said. “He’s never going to be a high walk guy. But if he’s swinging at good pitches, he’s going to do more damage – more extra-base hits – it all kind of works hand-in-hand.”

Gomes showed discipline at the plate by going 1-for-1 with one double and two walks on Thursday night. In addition, Gomes threw out a pair of runners at second base to improve his caught stealing percentage to 53.8%, the fourth highest mark in baseball.

“Even when he wasn’t getting hits – and I’ll say this about Roberto (Perez) too – they do such a good job shutting down the running game by the way they throw,” said Francona. “It’s a huge part of the game.”

The Sao Paulo native debuted on May 17, 2012 as the first Brazilian player in the big leagues, setting the stage for his fellow countrymen – Andre Rienzo (June, 2013) and Paulo Orlando (April, 2015) – to play at the MLB level as well.

Since the genesis of his professional career, Gomes has earned the trust of Francona as a reliable backstop with an unparalleled chemistry alongside a premier pitching staff.

“A [pitcher] is able to know he can bounce his breaking ball or split, knowing that it’s not going to go to the backstop,” Francona said. “I think our pitchers know that [Gomes] gets down and gets square and keeps it in front of him really good.”

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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