January 23, 2009 6:50 PM
Carlos Gonzalez arrives
Carlos Gonzalez finally made it to Denver on Thursday night, just in time to participate in the final day of the Rockies three-week winter development program on Friday.
Gonzalez, who was acquired from Oakland in November in the trade that sent Matt Holliday to the A's, was detained by winter ball in Venezuela, where he was in the playoffs with Zulia. That was by no means bad, and not just because Gonzalez was getting addition at-bats. Zulia, which is the name of one of Venezuela's 23 states, plays its games in Maracaibo, where Gonzalez was born and lives. So he had the chance to stay and visit with his family and have them watch him play.
Upon meeting Gonzalez, 23, one is immediately struck by his effervescence and his impressive command of English. He worked hard to cut down his strikeouts in winter ball, and I can't help but think that in spring training, he will thrive working with new Rockies hitting coach Don Baylor. In 1992, Baylor was the St. Louis hitting coach and had a tremendous impact on young outfielders Bernard Gilkey and Ray Lankford. They both had more experience in the big leagues at that point, particularly Lankford, than Gonzalez currently does (85 games and 302 at-bats with Oakland last year).
The last few days have been a whirlwind for Gonzalez. He flew from Venezuela on Thursday, arrived in Denver that night, worked out today and will stay over the weekend for the Rockies fanfest before leaving Monday for Venezuela.
"It's kind of crazy, but I think this is a baseball player life," Gonzalez said. "I'm here and tomorrow I'm in a different place. I feel comfortable with this life."