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Gomez prepared to be Jeanmar of all trades

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Re-enacting one of their 2013 traits right out of the 2014 gate, the Pirates won their Grapefruit League opener over the Yankees on Wednesday by overcoming an early four-run deficit.

Once again, it started with lock-down work by their bullpen, which once again started with a quiet turn by Jeanmar Gomez.

After Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez each allowed two runs in his inning, Gomez quieted matters with a 1-2-3 third without a ball leaving the infield.

"It was nice to see us get right out of the bullpen after we came out slow," manager Clint Hurdle noted.

"Today I feel very good, because my body feels good," said Gomez. "I tried to work mainly with my fastball."

That's the approach of all pitchers early in Spring Training. Yet this was already vintage Gomez, who did things as impressively last season, regardless of the circumstances. And they were certainly varied.

One of the smaller-print transactions -- he was acquired a month before Spring Training 2013 from the Indians for Minor League outfielder Quincy Latimore -- Gomez appeared in 34 games for the Pirates, none of them alike.

In spot situations he had to be the most efficient starter in the Majors. He made eight starts, and the Pirates won all of them. In relief, he worked fewer than two innings 13 times and three or more five times, with eight other appearances in between.

His bottom line was solid -- 3-0, with a 3.35 ERA -- but his contribution was even greater. Twice he gutted out punishing outings on zero days' rest to give his winded bullpen mates a break, in those games allowing a total nine earned runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Cross out those two outings, and his true value becomes 2.36-ERA work in the other 32 games.

"He really simplified things. He went from a starter throwing five pitches to a reliever basically working with three and executing them very well," Hurdle said of Gomez, who had started 38 of his prior 40 big league appearances with the 2010-12 Indians. "He kept the ball down, then the slider came into play, and that combination of spin and hitting the bottom of the zone was a really big step for him. That wasn't the M.O. when he was in the American League starting."

Gomez was willing to be a Jeanmar of all trades a year ago, when he was just trying to make the team. Now that he has earned some cred, would he prefer a streamlined role?

"No. This year again, I'm preparing for any situation," he said. "I try to get my body and my mind ready for anything. When I got to start those eight games, I felt good. When I did long relief, that felt good, too. It's important to be ready for any situation, no matter what they have me do."

His situation could either be complicated or simplified by the fact that the Pirates think they have a Gomez 2.0 in Stolmy Pimentel, a career starter in the Minors, now being considered for a similar swing role in the bullpen.

"Time will tell," Hurdle said when asked whether there is room for two such multitasking arms in one bullpen. "Right now we just want to keep guys pitching. We'll stretch [Gomez and Pimentel] and a handful of others out to three innings and 50 pitches, then see whether we can go farther with some or have to back off others.

"We took [Gomez, Vin Mazzaro and lefty Justin Wilson] right out of the chute [last year] to pitch multiple innings. This time we may just adjust the guys who will pitch those multiple innings. We'll see."

Gomez is confident they could make it work.

"First time I heard that about Stolmy," Gomez said when told that Pimentel is also being considered for dual roles. "He is my friend, my buddy, and I try to teach him everything about how the big leagues are. I stay with him so he can have success in the big leagues.

"Having him [by my side] won't put more pressure on me or make my job easier. I don't let anything put pressure on me. I just do what I can, and work hard."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }
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