Brewers’ Gomez looks to build on breakout year

PHOENIX (AP) They share a name and a love of baseball, but Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez says his father was always the bigger deal on the diamond back in their native Dominican Republic.

The younger Gomez finally has something over dear ol’ dad. That shiny Gold Glove award would probably look nice on the mantle at the Gomez home.

”He’s always said, `Oh when I (was) 21, I’m better than you, blah, blah, blah,” Gomez said lightheartedly. ”Yeah, but I’m the one professional. I’m the one with almost eight years in the big leagues. You never made it.”

All just good-natured family banter, of course. But safe to say, the younger Gomez has made it.

The 2013 season was a breakout campaign. Besides the Gold Glove award, Gomez hit .284 with 24 homers with 73 RBIs and 40 steals, plus 80 runs scored. In an otherwise disappointing season for Milwaukee, which didn’t have sluggers Ryan Braun (suspension, thumb) and Aramis Ramirez (left knee) for long spurts, Gomez was a stabilizing presence in the lineup.

Consistency is the next step for Gomez, who turned 28 in December.

”With his age, he’s still learning, he’s still improving, and I think with the mental side of it to help all the tools that he has,” manager Ron Roenicke said. ”I expect him to go out and have the same kind of year, or a little better.”

Gomez prides himself on hard work that got him to the point where he’s one of the best center fielders in the game. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Gomez went through his typical offseason routine of conditioning, speed work, hitting and working at the gym. He said he spent the offseason watching video of himself to analyze weaknesses.

”It’s all about mentally preparing to stay in the game and preparing to play at the level to keep me on the field,” Gomez said. It also means in part learning when it’s OK not to go full bore with the glove.

”I think if you are a fan coming to watch a baseball game, you want to see a guy like me giving everything they have every single day,” Gomez said. ”You have to be smart some times and control yourself to try and keep myself on the field.”

Roenicke would love to hear that. Gomez is aggressive at the plate, too, hitting .402 for his career on first pitches, but .161 with two strikes.

He likes the leeway in Milwaukee.

”It means everything. If I don’t have that kind of manager, the team that we have, I’d probably (wouldn’t) be the player that I am now,” Gomez said. ”Ron gives me the green light to do the stuff that I want to do, then everything starts right away.”

The confident Gomez is getting more notoriety, too, after representing the Brewers in a commercial shot this spring that featured player from every team. Once again, something else that the younger Gomez has over his father.

”I’m the one professional, I’m the one All-Star, and every time I get a hit, in (the) Dominican call (me) Carlos Gomez’s son,” he joked. ”I feel pride … people think my Dad is the big deal when I’m the big deal.”

Notes: Roenicke said this week that 2B Rickie Weeks, who is returning from a left hamstring injury that knocked him out in August last season, has looked good and has made minor adjustments in his swing. Weeks, a career. 247 hitter who has a 162-game average of 22 homers, could split the second-base job this season with second-year player Scooter Gennett. ”His hands are in a better place. He’s on time. I think he’s got a really good chance to be that offensive guy again,” Roenicke said.

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