Carlos Gomez thriving at top of order

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Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Saturday, April 12, 2014

MILWAUKEE—This leadoff thing is working out just fine so far for Carlos Gomez.

Installed in that spot by manager Ron Roenicke just a couple of weeks before the Milwaukee Brewers broke camp this spring, Gomez has come out of the gate blazing hot at the plate.

Entering Friday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park, Gomez was leading the Brewers with a .390 average, 16 hits, eight runs scored, a .432 on-base percentage, .732 slugging percentage and 1.164 OPS.

Gomez also was tied with Jonathan Lucroy for the team lead with seven extra-base hits, which included a team-high-tying three home runs.

Roenicke talked in March about Gomez being a “scary” at-bat for opposing pitchers, especially early when they might just be trying to groove the ball over the plate to get a game started.

He’s been exactly that, touching Atlanta’s Alex Wood for a first-pitch, leadoff homer last week at Miller Park and in general just hitting the ball hard to all fields.

“I didn’t know exactly what we were going to get with him,” Roenicke said. “I knew he was going to be aggressive. I probably didn’t even know he was going to be this aggressive. Last night, first pitch he sees, Cliff Lee knows he’s going to be swinging at the first pitch, throws a fastball over the plate and he hits a bullet to right field.

“I keep watching him and he keeps squaring up balls, and it’s not that easy to do. First pitch it’s not that easy, but he keeps hammering the ball. So he’s probably even a little better and more aggressive than I thought he’d be.”

Last season out of necessity, Gomez started at least one game in spots 1-8 in the lineup but hit leadoff only once. Still, it’s not a job that’s foreign to him, as he started 90 games as the Minnesota Twins’ leadoff hitter in 2008. Success didn’t come easily, as he hit just .246 with a .281 on-base percentage.

Gomez was a much different hitter then, however. Now 28 and coming off his first all-star season, he has learned the value of patience and adjustments.

“Back then I hit (.258) and I had no idea—I was just swinging,” said Gomez. “Tried to hit the ball on the ground, bunted a lot. With no idea, I hit (.258). Now with experience, and knowing and recognizing what the other team is trying to do to me, it’s easier. I’m getting more consistent each year. Now I know what I’m doing.

“I make adjustments quick. I strike out, but you throw me that pitch again and I’m not going to miss it. It’s preparation and being ready every time.”

Roenicke, unlike Minnesota’s coaching staff during Gomez’s tenure with the Twins, encourages Gomez to remain aggressive at the plate.

“He wild-swings, and at times you can see it. But he’s not chasing a lot,” Roenicke said. “He’s very aggressive—but on the pitches he wants to swing at. That’s the biggest key with anybody.”

Gomez went 1 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI in the Brewers’ 4-2 victory Friday.

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