"He's been kind of a force," Francona said. "I'm trying to take advantage of it."
For Sunday's game against the Tigers, Gomes was in the lineup as the designated hitter for the first time this season. With left-hander Jose Alvarez making his big league debut for Detroit, Francona saw it as an opportune time to keep Gomes' bat in the order, but to also make sure starting catcher Carlos Santana is still getting his time behind the plate.
Entering Sunday, the 25-year-old Gomes had six home runs, 12 extra-base hits, 16 runs scored and 17 RBIs in 26 games for the Indians. Over his past 14 games, the catcher had hit at a .346 clip (18-for-52) with a 1.017 OPS, raising his average from .212 to .294 in the process.
"Guys earn their playing time, for sure," Francona said. "We have the ability, because we have some flexibility -- Carlos' flexibility [to play first base and catch] -- that we can play Gomes enough to where he's not losing development. And he's actually helped us win games. The way the setup is right now, it's worked for us.
"The main reason is because [Gomes] is playing so well."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.