Gomez Making Strides for Indians

By: T.J. Zuppe

Indians pitcher Jeanmar Gomez is learning on the job. Not only is he in the major leagues for the first time, as a rookie, learning how to approach the big show. He is the youngest player, on an already young team.

He has not let it show in Cleveland, however. In fact, he has shown much maturity, and is using the club’s necessity for him to pitch at the big-league level, to his advantage.

Indians Rookie Jeanmar Gomez

Many rookies make it to the big club, and have a deer-in-the-headlights look, in their play and their demeanor. Situations overpower, and the inexperience is unable to be ignored.

Not Gomez, who in his first three starts in the major leagues is 2-0, with an impressive 1.56 earned run average. He has tossed 17.1 innings, facing the Detroit Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Minnesota Twins in his first three appearances, and never really looked over-matched.

In his most recent outing, against the Twins, Gomez had to battle through 5.1 innings against a veteran team, without his best stuff. Even though he struggled early with command, he kept the team in the game and put them in position to win, allowing only one run, on four hits.

While other pitchers would be concerned with non-important minutiae, Gomez is using the entire process as a learning tool. He came away from the game learning a valuable lesson.

“I learned to throw in the zone. Gomez said. “Not too fine, just in the zone.”

Throwing strikes is a good first lesson for any young hurler. He has had to learn that quickly, as the Indians have kept his pitch count at the top of the importance list. Not only do they want to tax the young 22-year old’s arm, but he has also been asked to start on short rest on one occasion, due to injury and trades.

He has taken it all in stride, but realizes how important the rest of his team can be to his performance. In addition, in a number of ways, he has made it a point to become a sponge, with information surrounding him in the clubhouse, that he now has access to.

With no true veteran on the staff anymore, Gomez has made the best of the situation, and has made it a point to seek out advice, and tips at the major-league level.

“They are good teammates, and they are with me when I pitch,” Gomez said. “I talk everyday with Fausto (Carmona) and (Justin) Masterson, they help me a lot.”

Even his manager, Manny Acta has taken note to how Gomez has reacted, to his first stint with the big-league club.

Indians Pitcher Jeanmar Gomez

“I think the first outing, when we sent him down, did wonders for (his confidence),” Acta said. “We know he’s not a finished product, and in the right situation he would be developing at Triple-A a little bit more.

“But he’s been up here, hes thrown the ball well for three outings, so we’ll continue to take a look at him, and see where that takes us.”

Gomez is no stranger to success, and before coming up to the Tribe in July, had eight wins in Class-AAA Columbus, despite a higher-than-desired 5.20 ERA. However, even with some rough patches in 2010 for the Clippers, he has shown much promise in the organization. That includes a 3.43 ERA for the Class-AA Akron Aeros in 2009, in addition to a perfect game on his resume.

Time will tell if Gomez will continue to have success in Cleveland, but he has taken the right approach to being in the major-leagues and is using his time wisely, to prove he belongs in the big league staff. How he performs in the rest of his starts the rest of the season, can go a long way into catapulting himself into a great situation next season.

Gomez will face the Baltimore Orioles in his fourth start of his career, on Thursday night at Progressive Field. He will square off against right-hander, and former Indian, Kevin Millwood (2-11 – 5.84) of the Orioles. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm.

Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe

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