05/17/12 11:39 PM ET
First MLB Brazilian, Gomes 2-for-3 in debut
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
Gomes made his Major League debut in Thursday night's 4-1 win over the Yankees after being promoted earlier in the day from Triple-A Las Vegas. He took the spot of former starting first baseman Adam Lind, who was optioned to the Minors in a corresponding roster move.
It was a dream come true for the 24-year-old Gomes, who became the first Brazilian to ever appear in a big league game.
"It's an absolute honor," said Gomes, who received the news on Wednesday and took an overnight flight to Toronto. "Growing up in Brazil you would never think of that, so coming out here and having it, it seems like it happened so fast. So I definitely have to take it in.
"I'm really proud of it, it's an honor to represent my country."
Gomes' first experience in a Blue Jays uniform went down as a success. He wasn't tested in the field but managed to go 2-for-3 at the plate and was presented with the ball from his first hit in the Major Leagues by potential future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel after the game.
It was a memorable experience and one that Gomes isn't likely to forget any time soon.
"It's kind of sinking in right now," Gomes said after the game. "It has been a pretty long day. It's finally getting in my head that I made my Major League debut. It has been an amazing day."
Gomes spent the vast majority of his Minor League career mired in obscurity. Last season, he served as the primary backup to top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud at Double-A New Hampshire while also receiving some time at first base and designated hitter.
When a player is branded as a utilityman in the Minors, it's not often they eventually receive consideration from the big league club. But that perception of Gomes changed this spring, when a strong performance under the watchful eye of manager John Farrell and the rest of the Blue Jays' coaching staff elevated his status in the organization.
Gomes' role was expanded even further during camp as he began taking ground balls at third base in an effort to take his versatility to another level.
It was a position he spent some time playing in college, so there was already a base of knowledge to work from, and his extra repetitions led to this week's promotion to replace the suspended Brett Lawrie at third base.
"He's a hard-nosed player, I'd say he's a blue-collar kind of guy that has never had anything given to him," Farrell said. "His ascent to the Major Leagues has clearly been earned on his part. The last couple of years he has broke Spring Training and Minor League camp, he has gone into the start of that season as not a regular or everyday player.
"He has earned his at-bats and he has performed very well. He is a product of our developmental system in that he has worked at his craft and he has earned it all the way to the Major Leagues."
Gomes' strong performance at the plate during the spring carried over to his work during the regular season. He managed to hit .359 with five home runs and 22 RBIs while posting a .956 OPS in 33 games in the Pacific Coast League.
The former 2009 10th-round Draft pick doesn't know whether his time in the Majors will come to an end when Lawrie returns from a suspension, but until that point comes, he'll just focus on the things that he can control.
"Biggest concern is just staying with my game," Gomes said. "I don't want to try to do anything I don't know how to do, so I just have to come out and play the same way.
"I can't do things that I can't do, so if it's my timeline, then I'm going to work my butt off and help the team win."
Vlad appears to be on fast track to Blue Jays
TORONTO -- Vladimir Guerrero has been in extended spring training for only three days, but he has already made a strong impression with the organization, according to manager John Farrell.
Guerrero wasn't expected to be ready for a promotion to the big leagues until at least the middle of June, but that could change based on the early reports out of Dunedin, Fla.
"I'll tell you this, it has quickly shortened that up based on how he feels," Farrell said of Guerrero, who signed a Minor League contract on May 10. "Just by the way he is taking BP, how he's gone about his work, how he feels physically."
Guerrero wasn't scheduled to start appearing in games at extended spring training until next week, but that timeline has been moved up. The 37-year-old veteran will see his first action against live pitching on Friday and is expected to hit in every inning of the simulated game.
The Dominican native likely will also play four to five innings in the outfield, but the organization still views him primarily as a DH at this point in his career.
"Probably more DH, and I think the fact he's playing the outfield is more just to get his body into overall shape," Farrell said. "Get his legs under him and just get back to baseball activity."
Guerrero's quick progress is coming at the right time. Starting first baseman Adam Lind was optioned to the Minors on Thursday, while DH Edwin Encarnacion has shifted over to first. That could create a spot on the 25-man roster for Guerrero in the near future if he continues a strong showing at the club's Minor League complex.
The 16-year veteran hit .290 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs while posting a career low .733 OPS in 145 games with the Orioles last season.
Farrell playing hot hand with Davis
TORONTO -- Rajai Davis made a rare start against a right-handed pitcher on Thursday night, but it's something that could happen with more regularity in upcoming games.
Davis has been used almost exclusively as a fourth outfielder this season while also getting starts against left-handed pitching in a platoon with left fielder Eric Thames.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell appeared to indicate that Davis could be used more frequently following a stretch of games where he has been performing well.
"Rajai brings a different element than anybody else on our roster," Farrell said of Davis, who has 183 career stolen bases. "He's earning and has earned the playing time to get back into the lineup, and that's not to take anything away from Eric.
"[Drew Hutchison] has been more of a fly-ball pitcher, so we're adding some defense, adding some speed, added some intangibles that Rajai brings, it gives us the one left-handed bat off the bench in the event of a late-inning matchup situation that we might deem favorable at that time."
Farrell stopped short of saying how much playing time Davis should now be expected to see in left field, but Thames isn't going to be used strictly as a reserve outfielder. There will still be plenty of opportunities for him to get back into the lineup.
"One, Rajai has earned more playing time," Farrell said. "Two, if there are matchups that are that much more apparent than a left-handed lineup, with the guys that we have in that daily lineup, that could also be the case. I don't want to say Eric is going to become a bench player, because he's not."
Davis entered play on Thursday hitting .263 with a .333 on-base percentage in 38 at-bats this season.