Twins counting on Gomez to get it goingCarlos Gomez had just reached fifth gear and was speeding around second base when his gapper bounced high off the Metrodome turf and into the stands for a ground-rule double. That didn’t stop the precocious Minnesota Twins center fielder. The 23-year-old, who has the energy and attention span of a toddler, kept right on running before third base coach Scott Ullger pointed him back to second.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Carlos Gomez had just reached fifth gear and was speeding around second base when his gapper bounced high off the Metrodome turf and into the stands for a ground-rule double.
That didn’t stop the precocious Minnesota Twins center fielder. The 23-year-old, who has the energy and attention span of a toddler, kept right on running before third base coach Scott Ullger pointed him back to second.
“He just runs,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said with a bemused smile after the game.
It’s been that kind of season for the young Dominican. Just when Gomez looks like he is really getting going, something gets in his way.
Gomez is hitting .235 with two home runs and 18 RBIs for the Twins this season. He has played in 77 of team’s 89 games this season while Gardenhire has shuffled a crowded outfield that also includes Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young and Jason Kubel, when he is not the DH.
The Twins open up the second half of the season on Friday at Texas, sitting four games behind Detroit in the AL Central. It would help if the popular kid they call “Go-Go” would get going.
Gomez hopes to use some momentum gained from his final game before the All-Star break. On Sunday against Chicago, Gomez went 3 for 4 with a home run, that double and a career-high five RBIs to help the Twins to a 13-7 win over the White Sox.
“When you’re getting those big hits from 7-8-9, it takes a lot of pressure off the guys in the middle,” cleanup hitter Justin Morneau said. “He definitely has that potential and we see that once in a while it will come out. Hopefully we can see that a little more often.”
That would make things a lot easier on Gardenhire. One of the manager’s biggest challenges this season has been juggling the lineup to get all of his outfielders enough playing time so they feel comfortable and sharp.
After an injury-plagued 2008, Cuddyer has locked down right field with a quietly productive — .273, 14 homers, 47 RBIs — season at the plate and in the field.
Span is the only true leadoff hitter the team has, so he plays every day in left field or center field and Kubel will fill in from time to time in the corners when he is not the designated hitter.
That means that Gomez and Young essentially are battling for one spot most days they arrive at the ballpark. Young is hitting .266 with three homers and 25 RBIs and has been a disappointment since coming over in a trade with Tampa Bay before last season.
“You’ve got so many outfielders that you can’t play them all,” Gardenhire said. “When you get in there and get your opportunity, take advantage of it. The one thing Carlos has never stopped doing is working his butt off. He’s out there on the field, he’s work, work, work, early BP, the whole package. As a manager you always appreciate that.”
So far, Gomez has not gotten too down on himself when he is not in the lineup.
“It’s not frustrating,” he said. “It’s part of the game. Baseball is back and forth.”
The ideal scenario for the Twins would be for Gomez to grab hold of the everyday job in center field. That gives Gardenhire his best defensive outfield with Span in left, Gomez in center and Cuddyer in right. It also gives him more options offensively because Gomez has proven to be a very good bunter and his speed makes him a threat on the bases.
Like many young players, however, Gomez has struggled to find some consistency. His excitable nature and youthful enthusiasm endear him to teammates and coaches, but they also make him the most unpredictable player in the clubhouse.
On several occasions Gardenhire has spoken candidly about not knowing what is going to happen when Gomez goes to the plate, or where the ball is going to end up when his powerful arm lets one fly from center field.
As Gomez enters the second half of his second full season in Minnesota after coming over from the Mets in the Johan Santana trade, the Twins are hoping he can channel that seemingly boundless energy in a productive direction.
“He’s learning. He’s starting to know the pitchers a little better,” Morneau said after Gomez’s big day on Sunday. “If we can get him hot, he causes a lot of problems for the other team. There’s so much speed on the base paths. To get those big hits like that, it will be a lot harder to pitch to him.”