Jays' Gomes a major-league first

CAITLYN HOLROYD, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:53 AM ET

TORONTO - Standing in the middle of the Jays dressing room being handed his first strikeout ball and base-hit ball of the major leagues, it all started to sink in for Yan Gomes.

“It’s getting in my head that I made my major league debut right now,” he said following the Jays 4-1 victory over the Yankees on Thursday.

For the 24 year-old native of Sao Paulo, making his debut against New York was nothing short of surreal.

“Growing up in Brazil, Yankees are one of the only teams you know about so this is kind of a crazy dream right now.”

His appearance also made him the first Brazilian-born player to play in a major league game.

“You would never think of (making the major leagues) so coming out here, it seems like it happened so fast so definitely got to take it in and I’m really proud of it. It’s an honour to represent my country,” he said.

Even his teammates were aware of the significance.

“The first Brazilian-born major league baseball player — think about all the great athletes that come out of that country and to be able to say that you’re the first to make it to the major league, that’s pretty spectacular. I get chills just saying it right now,” J.P. Arencibia said.

Though primarily a catcher, Gomes has also played first and third base this season with triple-A Las Vegas. He was called up to replace struggling first baseman Adam Lind, who was sent down to the 51s, and fill in for Brett Lawrie, who began serving his four-game suspension.

In 33 games with the 51s this season, Gomes is batting .359 with 12 doubles, five home runs and 22 RBI.

Despite his lack of experience playing third base and on turf, manager John Farrell said that Gomes has earned his spot on the Jays roster.

“He’s a hard-nosed player. I’d say he’s kind of a blue collar type of guy who has never had anything given to him. His ascent to the major league has been clearly earned on his part.”

“He’s a product of a development system in that he’s worked at his craft and he’s earned his way all the way to the major leagues.”

Gomes began playing baseball at the age of six — something uncommon in a country where soccer is the sport of choice. As the story goes, his father was out buying groceries when he ran into a baseball coach. He told him that he had a kid and the coach said to bring him out and see what happens.

“It’s the best thing he ever did,” Gomes said about his father’s decision to put his son in baseball.

When asked whether any of the Jays had offered up some advice for his major league debut, Gomes recited a line from Colby Rasmus.

“It’s still the same game as when you were a kid.”


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