First MLB Brazilian, Gomes 2-for-3 in debut

First MLB Brazilian, Gomes 2-for-3 in debut

First MLB Brazilian, Gomes 2-for-3 in debut
TORONTO -- Yan Gomes made a strong impression with the Blue Jays during Spring Training, and now he hopes to have a similar effect at the big league level.

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."