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07/20/08 12:03 AM ET
Gardenhire: Gomez needs better at-bats
Twins skipper to stick with his leadoff man, for now anyway
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has one specific thing that he wants to see from slumping center fielder Carlos Gomez. "All I'm looking for from him is better at-bats," Gardenhire said. Gomez entered Saturday's contest against the Rangers having gone just 3-for-44 (.068) since July 4. In that stretch, he had not drawn a single walk while striking out 13 times and had an on-base percentage of just .089 in 10 games. But Gardenhire said before Saturday's contest against the Rangers that he saw signs on Friday that things could be turning around for Gomez. "He had good at-bats; he had just one bad one in his last time at the plate," Gardenhire said of Gomez's 0-for-5 performance. "He actually put some swings on it. He stayed on the ball and hit one that was barely foul down that line. He had better at-bats, and we need that out of him." Gomez hasn't visibly shown much frustration during his recent slump, but the prolonged struggles have started to affect the center fielder's demeanor off the field slightly. And that's part of the reason why Gardenhire said there have been no plans to alter Gomez's role in the order, despite his recent troubles in the leadoff spot. The skipper has always been cautious to change things drastically for young players who are in the midst of a slump. "I don't want to devastate him any more than he already is because he's fighting it pretty hard," Gardenhire said. "He knows where he's at, obviously. If I have to move him down, I have to move him down. I'm just giving him every opportunity." Gomez got off to a better start in Saturday's contest, drawing a four-pitch walk from Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison. He lined out to Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler in his next at-bat in the third inning before tallying back-to-back doubles. The first double snapped an 0-for-12 streak for the center fielder. "For three weeks I don't see two base hits, and tonight I'm so happy," Gomez said. Gardenhire seemed pleased with the progress he saw from Gomez as well.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.