Longtime ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez doesn’t expense trips to visit his son, but he could. That’s because Rio Gomez is of the ilk his father covers, a professional baseball player blazing his own path toward the big leagues.
The elder Gomez has covered baseball in Bristol, Conn., since 2003, regularly appearing on shows such as “SportsCenter’’ and “Baseball Tonight.’’ The younger Gomez was selected by the Red Sox in the 36th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Now they occupy a singular workplace — the diamond — and form a genial duo enacting many father-son dreams.
Pedro Gomez has seen the gamut of southpaw slingers. No one makes him beam like his son.
“When [Rio] got to the University of Arizona, I told him, ‘No matter what, you’ve already reached a level that so few ever do.’ ’’ Gomez said. “He pitched in the Pac-12 Conference. That was amazing. To see him pitch in a Super Regional successfully and then to have his name called and to be drafted, he keeps taking steps.’’
Currently doing his work at Single A Lowell, Gomez doesn’t possess the electric fastball or overwhelming physical tools of some of his peers. But he’s spent years soaking up the oodles of baseball knowledge at his disposal and is well-versed in outwitting competition.
In five appearances with the Spinners in 2018, Gomez has amassed a sparkly stat line: 13⅔ innings, five hits, 0.66 ERA, one walk, 13 strikeouts. The 6-foot, 190-pound prospect is a beacon of command, using his best pitch — the changeup — to induce swings-and-misses.
“There’s definitely no advantage athletically,’’ joked Gomez on having a father who covers the big league. “You don’t get any extra ability to hit a ball harder or throw a ball farther from that.
“What I work on is having a great changeup because I’m not a guy who’s going to blow it by you. I’m not going to be 98. That’s not me and I’ve accepted it a long time ago so that makes it easier for me to work on other parts of my craft instead.’’
The elder Gomez is comfortable as can be in front of the camera. Jokes his son, “My dad has all the charisma. I’m just looking for half of it.’’
Sitting in the stands, however, opens a different can of worms.
“It’s nerve-racking,’’ he said. “I’ve covered the game for 35 years at the big-league level, but whenever [Rio’s] on the mound, a 1-0 count is the end of the world for me.’’
The Gomez duo can’t play catch like they used to.
“He’s still got about 90 feet in him,’’ said Rio of his father, a sly smile on his face.
But unless one happened upon the two having a toss, it wouldn’t click that Rio is Pedro’s son.
That’s because Rio Gomez has his own story to tell.
“I don’t think anyone wants to be known as that guy’s kid or that guy’s brother,’’ he said. “That’s probably a big reason why I don’t tell anybody that my dad is Pedro Gomez when I get to a new team or a new level. I don’t ever bring it up until they find out and I think part of that is because I don’t want to be known like, ‘Oh, that’s Pedro’s kid,’ or, ‘That’s how he got here: because he’s Pedro’s kid.’
“I got here because of me.’’