Of all the quirky elements of Fenway Park’s 103-year-old design, the Green Monster might just be the quirkiest. And perhaps no one knows that better than Jonny Gomes.
The former Red Sox outfielder only patrolled left field in Boston for a season and a half, but he took the time to learn everything about the 37-foot, 2-inch wall that can make playing at Fenway a nightmare to unfamiliar opponents. Now, with Gomes playing for the Atlanta Braves, the Monster is Hanley Ramirez’s problem.
Gomes visited his former team at JetBlue Park for a spring training matchup Tuesday, and he didn’t mince words when he spoke of how much goes into learning the left-field wall.
“I wouldn’t say experience as much as being extremely open and having the work ethic to learn it,” Gomes told WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “That wall hasn’t moved in 100-plus years and balls are bouncing off that wall pretty similarly to the way they did 100 years ago. At the same time, it’s so foreign from anywhere else. It’s not like grabbing a wall and throwing a ball off it. There’s a lot to be learned off that wall.”
Luckily for Ramirez, who’s spent his entire career on the left side of the infield, outfield/first base coach Arnie Beyeler is helping him learn the Monster and even is using some of Gomes’ tactics, such as catching the ball off the wall rather than letting it drop.
“(Gomes) was very creative out there, catching the ball off the wall,” Beyeler told Bradford. “He started working on that, practicing that. That’s something that if you don’t play enough games out there you’ll waste your time trying to do it and you create more problems. He sure opened an awareness of how you can control the game a little better.”
Thumbnail photo via Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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