Gomes dealt to Nationals for 2 minor leaguers

Published 1:59 am Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Reds sent struggling left fielder Jonny Gomes to Washington for two minor leaguers on Tuesday, a move that opens an outfield spot for one of their best young hitters.

Former first-round pick Yonder Alonso was called up from Triple-A to take Gomes’ spot, giving the defending NL Central champions another left-handed hitter who can play left field and back up Joey Votto at first base.

The Reds obtained minor league left-hander Chris Manno and outfielder Bill Rhinehart from Washington. Cincinnati included money in the deal to pay part of Gomes’ salary.

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“For us, it’s a tough move to make in some ways because Jonny was a big part of our club last year, a guy that obviously we all think of highly as a person and a player,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “It gives us an opportunity to bring Alonso up and start looking at a couple of guys that could get an opportunity.”

The 24-year-old Alonso was the seventh overall pick in the June 2008 draft. A career first baseman, he got stuck behind Votto and was moved to left field. He batted .296 with 24 doubles, 12 homers and 56 RBIs in 91 games at Triple-A Louisville, playing 21 games at first and 62 in the outfield.

“He’s improved a lot,” Jocketty said. “He’ll be able to spell Joey from time to time at first, play some left field, be a left-handed hitter off the bench. One thing we know about Yonder: He can flat-out hit.”

The 30-year-old Gomes revitalized his career in Cincinnati, which signed him to a minor league deal after Tampa let him go after the 2008 season. He had one of his best opening halves last year, batting .277 with 11 homers and 60 RBIs at the midpoint.

He tailed off in the second half, but the Reds picked up his option for $1.75 million. His playing time diminished as he slumped. Gomes is batting .211 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs.

Gomes was surprised by the deal.

“A little bit,” he said. “But you know, this is a result-driven industry, if you will. And when the results aren’t there, it might be time to move. Just the (batting) average, that really killed me. You look at everything else, and everything else is kind of there.”

Gomes became a fan favorite in Cincinnati with his Mohawk and hard-charging style. He was grateful that the Reds gave him a chance to revive his career, but sad to leave.

“I’m bitter about leaving because I love these guys,” Gomes said. “I love where this team’s at, I love where they’re about to go. But as we know, it’s a business. By the other token, a team reached out that wanted my services.”

Jocketty said the Nationals were the most persistent about Gomes. Asked about other trade talks, Jocketty said, “A lot of things cooking, but nothing close. I didn’t think this was close this afternoon, but it developed quick.”

Manno, 22, went 1-3 with a 1.04 ERA and 12 saves at Class A Hagerstown. Rhinehart, 26, batted .283 with 21 homers and 59 RBIs at Double-A Harrisburg.