By Joe Christensen
DUNEDIN — I don’t know what’s better: Watching these games, wondering which way Carlos Gomez is going to entertain me on the field. Or, talking to him in the clubhouse, wondering which quote is going to leave me laughing the rest of the night.
There is a touch of Marlon Brando in his voice, if you can imagine The Godfather saying, “Never go against the family.” Only it’s a second language for Gomez, so there’s an endearing Dominican twist.
Gomez went 2-for-5 with a run-scoring triple, two runs scored and a stolen base today in the Twins’ 4-0 victory over Toronto. He is batting .222 with three stolen bases for the spring.
After the game, I told him it seemed like he was in the pitchers’ heads.
“That’s good,” he said in that cool voice. “When the pitcher thinks only about the leadoff hitter, he doesn’t think about the other guys. Like Morneau — probably this year, he has a better year. Because [the pitcher] thinks more Gomez, Gomez — first base. He has to be quicker [to home plate], and he throws more fastballs to the catcher.
“You know, he’s scared to throw breaking balls, and I steal second easy.
“And now I’m at second. Whatever base hit, I score.
“They’re scared when I am on the base. They have to think too much, throw a lot of [pitch outs] to throw me out.
“Mauer probably hits second in the lineup. He’s got good patience, and he kill this league this year.”
So there you have it. Supposedly, there is a three-way battle for center field going on this spring. You would never guess that after spending one minute around this 22-year-old phenom.