CLEVELAND -- As Yan Gomes took batting practice before Friday's clash with Kansas City, World Cup foes Brazil and Colombia went toe-to-toe in the background on the Progressive Field scoreboard.
Gomes, the Tribe's Brazilian-born catcher, quietly cheered on his countrymen in between his pregame cuts as they bested Colombia, 2-1, but he cringed when superstar Neymar went down.
"It was probably even one of our most impressive games we played, especially against a hot team like Colombia," Gomes said. "But a huge loss in losing in Neymar."
Gomes has been nothing if not rock-steady for the Indians this season. The 26-year-old has caught in 70 of 85 games, freeing up Carlos Santana to play full-time in the infield, while providing capable production on the offensive end. On Saturday, he was given a much-needed day of rest against the Royals after starting 12 of the last 13 games behind the plate.
"We've had a few days off as a team, but he really has caught just about every game," Tribe manager Terry Francona said. "They got a lefty going tomorrow against [Corey] Kluber, they got a righty tonight, and George [Kottaras] just caught T.J. [House]. It just seemed to make sense."
Gomes has proven especially valuable in shutting down opposing teams' running games. Entering Saturday, his caught-stealing rate (36.4 percent) ranked fourth among qualified catchers -- a mark he improved after throwing out Lorenzo Cain to turn a 2-5 double play on Friday.
"That's what Gomer can do. He's such a force behind there, that's part of why we don't really pitch out that much, because of the way he throws," Francona said.
Of course, when he's not nabbing runners from home plate, Gomes has been following international soccer -- and giving his teammates a hard time about his home country's success. He's even recruited Venezuelan shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to root for Brazil along with him.
"It's just a lifestyle down in Brazil," Gomes said. "Here you can pick up a basketball, pick up a baseball. In Brazil, you don't do that. It's all soccer. You can make a soccer ball out of nothing. That's pretty much how it was growing up."
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less