Orioles' Jones has found a Twin in Gomez

ON BASEBALL

Commentary

June 08, 2008|By DAN CONNOLLY

Last month, a Boston reporter sat down with Minnesota Twins center fielder Carlos Gomez and asked him what he thought of Jacoby Ellsbury, whom the writer assumed Gomez would often be compared to.

Gomez, 22, who is wearing out reporters' notebooks and tape recorders throughout the American League on his way to a Most Valuable Quote Award, said this to The Boston Globe reporter:

"Who's that? I don't know him. What's his name?"

An astonished Twins teammate had to explain to Gomez that Ellsbury was Boston's standout rookie center fielder before Ellsbury's name finally registered on the Go-Go meter.

Ellsbury shouldn't feel slighted.

In March, Gomez said he believed he could help the Twins, especially hitting in front of "[Justin] Morneau, the catcher and the other guy." The catcher would be Joe Mauer, a budding star, and the other guy is steady right fielder Michael Cuddyer. Given the above, Adam Jones should feel privileged.

Because when asked about Jones last week while the Orioles were in Minnesota, Gomez didn't hesitate, even though they hadn't played against each other until this spring.

"When I heard [the Seattle Mariners] traded Adam Jones to the Orioles, I said, `If he gets the chance there, he'll be a good ballplayer,' " Gomez said. "He has the tools. He's got the ability. He has everything."

What Jones also has is plenty in common with Gomez. They are the same age, play the same position, and have great speed, outgoing personalities and sky-high baseball ceilings.

And they both were the coveted prospect in blockbuster offseason deals involving a star pitcher. Gomez was the key to the trade that sent Johan Santana to the New York Mets, and Jones made Erik Bedard-to-Seattle a reality.

"He's linked to a lot bigger pitcher than I am," Jones said. "Bedard is one of the best pitchers, still, in baseball. But Santana, year in and year out, Santana is always at the top of every category."

Both players said they feel no pressure because of the deals.

"At first, I did. I tried to do too much," Jones said. "Now, I don't care what the expectations were. I don't care I was traded."

Gomez said he never considered the enormous size of his deal.

"I didn't think, `Oh, it's Johan Santana,' " Gomez said. "I say, `This is my opportunity to play every day.' That's all I think. I think about me, and I think nothing about him."

Truthfully, it takes a certain type of person to be in the position of Gomez and Jones. They have to be a little brash, cocky even, but humble enough to understand that they still must earn the respect of those within the game.

"I think it takes a guy that's not wrapped up in himself ... that doesn't want the spotlight on him," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "Understand the magnitude of how he got here but is unassuming in the way he goes about his business. And I think we have seen that with Jones. He is approachable. He doesn't think he knows it all.

"Obviously, there is a tremendous upside there, and obviously there is a tremendous room for improvement. You can see that with Gomez [too]."

Both had limited time in the majors last season. And both have been given everyday jobs with their new teams.

"It is to your team's advantage if you can get those guys on your club and get a full season on a regular basis under their belts," Trembley said. "The experience they'll get will be invaluable. They'll get better. They will get a lot better."

And the duo is already pretty solid.

Gomez is Minnesota's leadoff hitter, batting .277 with 17 stolen bases. "I am a fan," Jones said of Gomez. "I am playing against him, but I've told him, `I am a fan of yours.' "

Jones is hitting .251 with 26 RBIs and five stolen bases.

"He can bat, he runs, he's got power," Gomez said of Jones. "The only thing he has to do is learn how to play the game; me, too. Here, we have to do it fast and learn how to control our emotions and do it in the game. And we will be all right. We have the tools. We have the ability."

Defensively, both already appear to be above average, consistently using their speed to track down fly balls.

Jones thinks the two have a chance to battle for a Gold Glove one day. For now, though, two of the youngest starting players in the major leagues are attempting to learn on the job.

But the ever-quotable Gomez is all but guaranteeing an incredibly bright future for each.

"I know someday," he said, "we are going to be in the All-Star Game together."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.