Gardenhire rejects suggestion that the Twins stunted Carlos Gomez
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MINNEAPOLIS - The popular narrative now that Carlos Gomez is a star for the Milwaukee Brewers is that the Twins stunted his growth.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't agree.
Gomez, in a cover story for Sports Illustated, told writer Luke Winn that for years he had been told to hit the ball on the ground to capitalize on his blazing speed -- despite his raw power potential. He's quoted in the piece as saying: "I might be out of baseball and never even try my way. I know I can do better. I want to be me."
It's easy to blast the Twins, if indeed they asked him to be a speedy slap hitter and then watched that power develop elsewhere.
"He wasn't told that here," Gardenhire said Monday. "We just told him to swing and hit the ball. We basically called him a Loose Cannon, he was going to do what he wanted to do.
"All we wanted to do with Go-Go was to get him out of fake bunting, fake swinging, fake bunting in the same at-bat -- on the same pitch. Because he would fake bunt, fake swing, [then] bunt. We just said, 'if you'll just make up your mind on a bunt or swing, we're happy.' You know what, we didn't try to limit the guy at all, I can tell you that right now."
Now that Gomez is now an MVP candidate, it's easy to look back say the Twins gave up prematurely on the former centerpiece of the Johan Santana trade. He had a poor season at the plate for the Brewers in 2010; same goes for 2011, although he showed improvement; in 2012 he hit 19 home runs; but he really took off in 2013 and was one of the best players in baseball.
Here are his slash lines, for those that are curious:
2009 (his last with the Twins): .229/.287/.337
2014 (through All-Star break): .304/.370/.510
Trading J.J. Hardy for Gomez has worked out wonderfully for the Brewers, especially considering the latter's team-friendly contract. The current void in center field in Minnesota makes it even more noticeable among Twins observers that Gomez is destroying pitching in another city.
Gardenhire, though, rejected the suggestion that the Twins told Gomez hit it into the ground and run.
"There's a load full of talent there and I'm glad that everything is finally working for him because he's a wonderful kid and a wonderful player," Gardenhire said.