Gomes honored to be trailblazer for Brazil

Gomes honored to be trailblazer for Brazil

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Yan Gomes has only appeared in parts of two seasons in the big leagues, but the Indians' starting catcher alredy has a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

After Gomes became the first Brazilian-born player to reach the Major Leagues, the Hall of Fame collected the Blue Jays hat and jersey he wore in that May 17, 2012, game against the Yankees. Gomes has not been to Cooperstown, N.Y., to see the display, but he said he was humbled by the honor.

"I'm already in there," Gomes said with a smile. "Obviously, as a player I don't belong there, yet. But it's for our country. That's what the cool part is. The guys that are there, I don't even compare to them. But it's cool. It's good to have that little thing to savor."

Gomes -- acquired by Cleveland in an offseason trade prior to last season -- said having the items in the Hall is another way to help build baseball in Brazil.

Over the offseason, Gomes served as an ambassador to Brazil for Major League Baseball, making a trip to his country in December to tour facilities, help with clinics and speak with young players. While home, Gomes ran into Brazilian White Sox pitcher Andre Rienzo, who faced the catcher during his big league debut on July 30 last year.

"It was good just to see what it meant to them," Gomes said of being the first Major League from Brazil. "Not just me. Rienzo, I saw him down there at one of the tournaments where I threw out a first pitch. It was cool seeing just how much we meant to them. Growing up, we always looked up to someone in whatever sport you're playing. In a way, Brazil has somebody to look up to now in myself or him for baseball.

"We've got some guys coming up now. Paulo Orlando is in big league camp with the Royals, so he's doing some things. I know a lot of guys that we're playing in the Venezuelan league or [Puerto Rican] league, they're up here now playing Rookie ball. It's making a move, man. We're slowly getting there."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.