Gomes heads back to Durham
The Durham Bulls are adding a valuable right-handed pitcher as they close in on the International League South Division title.
It appears unlikely, though, that the Bulls will have him when the playoffs begin Sept. 4.
The Tampa Bay Rays optioned Brandon Gomes to Durham on Monday, using his roster spot to activate outfielder Desmond Jennings from the disabled list.
But Rays manager Joe Maddon, while not committing to anything, strongly hinted that Gomes will return when the big league rosters expand on Sept. 1.
Gomes has pitched in 15 games for Tampa Bay this season, compiling a 5.68 ERA. He was sidelined with a lat strain and spent Aug. 1-17 with the Bulls on an injury rehabilitation assignment.
In seven games with Durham, the reliever pitched eight innings and had a 2.25 ERA.
“I told him I thought the extended stay, rehab-wise, was good for him throwing wise because I thought he got sharper based on what I had been reading,” Maddon said. “He agreed with that. I think he knows that he’s still sharpening the edge a little bit. By the time he gets back, he’ll be able to contribute.”
Gomes pitched Saturday night for Tampa Bay against Toronto. He allowed a solo home run to Adam Lind and another hit while striking out two in his one inning of work as the Blue Jays won 6-2.
“I felt very sharp and very in control,” Gomes said. “I made one bad pitch, and I got beat on it. I didn’t feel the layoff at all. I felt very comfortable out there. It was very exciting to be out there. All positives.”
As the Rays prepared for batting practice Monday afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Gomes packed a bag and left the clubhouse with a trip to Durham in his future.
Baseball rules give him 72 hours to report to the Bulls and Gomes said he planned to return to Tampa first because he had packed only a small bag for the trip to Baltimore.
Working with Bulls pitching coach Neil Allen again will be the plus of returning to Durham, Gomes said.
“Neil is always great; I’ve been with him parts of three years now,” Gomes said. “He knows mechanically how I work, how I attack guys.”
During Gomes’ rehabilitation stint with the Bulls earlier this month, the Rays wanted him to work on his approach to left-handed batters. Gomes said Allen noticed he was letting that affect him against right-handers.
“Make sure you don’t lose yourself,” Gomes said Allen told him. “My last few outings (in Durham), it was a very good combination of the two. We’ll continue to do that and look to stay sharp for hopefully a September call-up.”