BREAKING NEWS: Baseball from final out of 2019 World Series still in one piece. Yan Gomes, who stuck it in his back pocket after Daniel Hudson’s swinging K ended Game 7, still has the ball at his home. Not going to cut it in half. I repeat: Not going to cut it in half...
Shockingly, no one asked Daniel Hudson about this when he spoke with reporters on a Zoom call on Monday afternoon, but when Washington Nationals’ catcher Yan Gomes got his opportunity to speak with the media on Tuesday, an intrepid reporters asked the veteran backstop if it, the baseball, was still in one piece, or if he’d (Gomes had) decided to cut it in half and share it (with ‘it’ being, again, the ball).
Gomes returned to D.C. on a 2-year/$10M free agent deal after putting up a .223/.316/.389 line with 16 doubles and 12 home runs in 97 games and 358 plate appearances in 2019. An option for the 2020 season at $9M was declined by the team, who paid a $1M buyout and then re-signed Gomes two a new two-year deal. But back to that ball...
The catcher, Gomes, said he doesn’t think halving the World Series ball is a great idea.
“I don’t think that would be a good thing to halve it any way,” Gomes said. “But no, it’s at home.”
The shared custody Hudson apparently wants may have to wait. And there are bigger things on the minds of everyone in the nation’s capital right now, with the first exhibition game the club will play scheduled for this weekend, and Opening Day now just nine days away.
Will it be enough time for everyone to get up to speed?
Gomes said on Tuesday that the fact that the Nationals’ pitchers came into camp in such good shape has definitely helped early in the process in Spring Training 2.0. The fact that both he and Kurt Suzuki are back for another season helps too, after the duo handled 160 games between them last year. It all helps, Gomes said.
“Definitely I think a lot of us, other than I think Will Harris, he’s the main new one that we want to get a really good look at,” the veteran catcher explained.
“We had almost a full Spring Training, so we were pretty familiar with each other, and these guys have done a really good job of staying ready.
“When everyone got here it wasn’t touch and feel, and you know, ‘Oh, this is maybe not really who he is.’ Guys were coming in and firing balls already. We were already getting a good feel from Day 1, and now it’s just a matter of getting some other guys out there and seeing how some pitches work.
“Everyone is really familiar with each other already. I think this team has done a good job of breaking the ice right away and getting guys to feel comfortable right away.”
Which is good, because on July 23rd, if everything goes as planned, the Nationals and New York Yankees will meet in Game 1 of 60 with Max Scherzer on the mound for the home team against Gerrit Cole, a pitcher the eventual World Series winners saw a lot of last October.
“I think we all know that from Day 1 games are going to be important,” Gomes said. “But also we all know that one of the last pitchers we faced last year was Gerrit Cole. I think we want to ride that confidence that we have with him from last year, even though it’s a whole new ballgame, it’s a whole new season.
“Everyone is doing as much as they can right now,” he added, “... ramping it up, and really getting themselves game-ready, because we know it’s going to be a short season and we can’t really do the whole 19-31 and make it a story again. I think the story is going to be on the other end. I think we’ve just got to get ready as much as we can and get it going from Day 1.”
Having, not halving, the Nationals’ starting staff in good shape, Gomes reiterated, will only make it that much easier to hit the ground running when the games start.
“The big thing that at least I was worried about, is the fact that it wasn’t like a small break. It was a long enough break to where guys kind of cool off a little bit, but they stayed in shape and guys came in and they were ready to throw 2-3 innings right out of the gate,” Gomes said.
“I think [Aníbal] Sánchez from the first outing, he already threw multiple innings, 3-4 innings, [Patrick] Corbin did the same, [Max] Scherzer, I think we expect it out of him.
“[Stephen Strasburg] and [Austin] Voth and those guys have done the same. So everyone is ready to go.
“Now it’s just a matter of ramping up to being ready to pitch a complete game.
“We’re not going to waste the first couple games of the year waiting for them to ramp up so they can get to 100 pitches. I think most of them are — if not [there], almost there, but we’re just playing it a little bit smart.”