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Jonny Gomes on D&C: ‘There’s no sabermetrics for chemistry’

New Red Sox [1] outfielder Jonny Gomes talked with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday about his clubhouse presence, hitting against righties, and comparisons with Kevin Millar.

While not always putting up All-Star numbers, Gomes is well-regarded for his reliability and positive clubhouse presence. He said it’s important to have good chemistry on a team.

“I don’t care what profession you are in. If you are working with your friends, if you are working in a healthy environment, if you’re working in a fun environment, the performance kind of shines a little bit,” he said. “I always go back to a little metaphor. When you’re 12 years old on the sandlot, 12 years old on the basketball court, you’ve got two captains, you’re one of the captains, who do you pick? You don’t pick the best player, you pick your friend. … That’s how it needs to be at the big league level. When you’re playing Little League [2] Baseball and your best friend’s pitching and you’re in the outfield you’re diving and catching that ball, 100 percent.”

Gomes has gone through much adversity in his lifetime, suffering a heart attack at 22 years old among other tough times.

“If you had to check off a heart attack, I guess I’d do it at 22 vs. 62,” Gomes said. “But yeah, I’m grateful for everything I have. … Therefore I don’t take it for granted. Can it be exhausting ‘living every day like it’s your last and playing every game like it’s your last?’ Absolutely. But at the same time, from the road I’ve taken, nothing is a guarantee.”

The Red Sox starting nine will feature many new regulars, including Shane Victorino [3], Stephen Drew [4] and Mike Napoli [5]. Many view Gomes as a platoon player due to his struggles vs. right-handers (.209 last year) and he understand that perception, but he’s not settling for anything.

Said Gomes: “Do I expect [to play full-time]? No. Am I ready for it? Yes. Whoever else is in competition for left field, expect to get 500 [at-bats]. That’s like me saying I expect to win the World Series [6]. Are we? I don’t know, but you’ve got to set your goals and shoot high for them.”

Gomes, 32, is playing on the first multiyear contract of his career. He acknowledged that the previous uncertainty was “not ideal,” but it did lead to some memorable experiences.

“Let me tell you what bouncing around has done for me,” Gomes said. “It’s playing for the youngest organization in the game in Tampa. It’s playing for the oldest organization in the Cincinnati Reds [7]. The team I grew up cheering for, the Oakland A’s. I’ve played in our capital, in Washington. With all that being said, I’ve played under Lou Piniella, Joe Maddon [8], Dusty Baker, Davey Johnson and Bob Melvin. Getting a piece of pie from all of those guys. [I] played with guys like Fred McGriff, Tino Martinez, Scott Rolen [9], Jim Edmonds, Jayson Werth [10]. The young guys, [Bryce] Harper, [Stephen] Strasburg, all the guys over in Oakland. [I’ve] popped champagne in three different cities, so I’m grateful, I really am.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis and Callahan audio on demand page [11]. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox [12].

On why he changes teams frequently: “I think from what I’ve brought to clubs, doesn’t really shine in a single season. I always say if you win a division in a big market club, that kind of shines. If you do it in a small market team it becomes a Cinderella story and considered lucky. Granted that I have three division titles in the last five years, all three are ‘lucky.’ Like, ‘You can’t do it again.’ I tell you what, sabermetrics is a son of a gun these days. There’s no sabermetrics for chemistry. There’s no sabermetrics for winning.”

On playing vs. righties: “It’s tough when you break it down. What’s the name of the game? The name of the game is timing. I think I was fortunate this offseason to kind of get shined because the Detroit Tigers [13] kind of struggled in the World Series for things that I did all year. Talk about hitting lefties. It turns out hitting lefties is tough when you’ve got Barry Zito [14] and [Madison] Bumgarner having great games against the Tigers, the best team in the American League [15].”

On having two years in Boston: “There’s two ways to succeed in this game. … One is opportunity. You can’t succeed without opportunity. There’s not many guys going to the All-Star Game with 100 at-bats, which means he didn’t have the opportunity. Two is job security. There’s not too many guys that go to the All-Star game that are on one-year deals. … So when you break down all the good guys in this game, you break down all the All-Stars, and you break down some of the hot shots in this game, it just goes to two things. It’s opportunity and job security, so it would be nice to have both those things.”

On being compared with Kevin Millar: “Kevin Millar is actually one of my really good friends. We’ve known each other for a while. But we just can’t be compared to each other, because I’m twice as good-looking. He actually, he dyes his hair. I do not dye my hair. … His front two teeth are fake, I don’t have fake teeth. I have twice as much power as he does and I think I’ve got three inches on the forearms over him. So there’s actually nothing to compare with Kevin and I.”