BOSTON -- It has been more than a year since Jonny Gomes signed with the Red Sox, but it was only recently that he realized just how important the team is to the people -- both near and far.
"The majority of the people, they don't say 'congratulations,' which I thought was coming," Gomes said Wednesday before a Red Sox Town Hall meeting at Northeastern University. "Pretty much everyone says 'thank you.' Thank you for the mindset change, thank you for the smiles, thank you for getting the city back to where it was, thank you for getting the Red Sox back to where it belongs."
Gomes also noted how after the Boston Marathon tragedy, people jumped on the backs of the Bruins, then the Sox and most recently the Patriots. He didn't expect the Red Sox winning it all to mean as much as it did.
"It kind of caught me off guard a little bit," Gomes said. "It shows how deep that Sox Nation is. It's not really win-loss record. It's a pretty deep religion."
This offseason has been unlike any other in Gomes' career, as one might expect after playing for an extra month. Besides having less time to ramp up for Spring Training, Gomes said that even now, a full 12 weeks after the clincher, the feeling does not feel completely real.
"I kept pushing it back," Gomes said. "Right after Game 6, I said it'd sink in when we hit the parade. After the parade, it's like, 'I have to wait till I get my ring.' It still hasn't sunk in 100 percent."
Red Sox Town Hall abuzz with Tanaka signing
BOSTON -- The news that took the baseball world by storm Wednesday -- Masahiro Tanaka signing with the Yankees -- certainly was not lost on their rivals to the north.
Manager John Farrell, speaking at Northeastern University before a Red Sox Town Hall meeting, didn't stray from the company line, commending Tanaka and saying all indications are he is a very good pitcher. But Jonny Gomes took a moment to relish a bit more in the Red Sox standing on top of the baseball world.
"It's kind of flattering a little bit that the league rival does have to reload as much as they did," Gomes said. "People can go out and sign whoever they want right now. Boxing rules, we still have the belt."
Even after the Yanks spent nearly $500 million on free agents this winter, Gomes is taking more of a wait-and-see approach. Catcher Brian McCann, for example, has never played in the American League, and Tanaka has never pitched in the Majors.
"It's pretty interesting, $500 million -- and then still some questions," Gomes said. "It's about winning the summer, it's not about winning the winter. That's what we're going to try to do again."
As for Tanaka, Farrell hesitated to make the easy comparison with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who joined the Red Sox from Japan before the 2007 season. But the manager did note that much of the transition is similar -- pitching with a slightly different ball on a slightly different mound every five days as opposed to every seven.
Tanaka also will have to adjust to pitching across three time zones, as opposed to one in Japan.
"We'll see how quickly he transitions to the Major Leagues here," Farrell said. "By every account, he's a middle-of-the-rotation, top-of-the-rotation pitcher."
Farrell eager for first use of expanded replay
BOSTON -- Like it or not, Major League Baseball will employ a more extensive version of instant replay this season. Consider Red Sox manager John Farrell among those excited to see it happen.
"I think in the end, everyone wants to get the calls right," Farrell said Wednesday at Northeastern University prior to a Red Sox Town Hall. "If this is another tool that we have to use, then we're better off for it."
With the new replay system, managers will get one challenge in the first six innings; if they are successful with it, they will get one more. The crew chief will decide which plays are reviewed starting in the seventh.
Farrell was sure to mention that the strategy and idiosyncrasies of the new system will develop as managers gain higher degrees of comfort.
"The biggest familiarity we have to get is how much time do we get," Farrell said.
Say there is a close call at first base. A manager will go out to argue, but Farrell isn't sure how quickly the request for a replay will need to come about. Is it instant? Or can he argue before asking the umps to take a look? The latter would give team officials more time to review the play and signal whether or not the manager should indeed request a formal review.
However it plays out, more changes are likely to come.
"We also know that this is year one of it," Farrell said. "We fully expect that there's going to be adjustments made year after year until a final challenge system is in place."
Tim Healey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.