Astros' Gomez using rehab stint to refresh

Astros' Gomez using rehab stint to refresh

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- For Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez, baseball was fun again. Gomez, making his second start on Minor League rehab at Double-A Corpus Christi, smacked a long home run and had three outfield assists, including two at the plate, in a 2-1 win over Arkansas on Wednesday night at Whataburger Field.

Gomez, who's on the disabled list with a bruised rib cage, homered to left field in the fifth inning and saved the game by throwing out a runner at the plate for the final out in the eighth inning. He also made a spectacular diving catch in center.

"It feels really good. I can't wait to get here tomorrow," Gomez said. "It was a really good game defensively. I feel myself at the plate, too. I made some good contact, the pitch that I swung at. It was really good and I caught a changeup out front I was looking for. It was a pretty good day today."

Gomez was hitting .182 with no homers and five RBIs with the Astros before getting injured May 15 in Boston. He was placed on the disabled list and sent to Houston, where he worked out before joining the Hooks for his first game on Tuesday (0-for-3).

He crushed the first pitch he saw in the fifth inning Wednesday for a 417-foot homer.

"Not so much the home run, but the ball that made me feel better is that at-bat I was looking for that pitch, because the at-bat before, I took a changeup and I wasn't even trying to swing, so I know he would probably throw me a changeup on that pitch," he said. "He did and I put the contact on it that I wanted. It's not because I hit a home run. It's because I swung at the pitch I was looking for and I had solid contact."

Before the game, Gomez was smiling with his teammates, bouncing around the field and looked refreshed. He is expected to play in five or six games the rest of the Corpus Christi homestand before rejoining the Astros next week.

"Nobody wants to get hurt, but it's a perfect time so I can adjust myself and breathe a little bit and take a little bit of rest and relax my mind and come back fresh and help my team win," Gomez said pregame. "It's embarrassing, and I feel bad about the way I've been performing since I've been traded [from Milwaukee last July] to now. I know I'm not that type of player, but I'm the person when I'm not doing what I'm supposed to, I feel bad."

Gomez's season-long struggles in Houston were taking a toll on him emotionally and on the team. After he misplayed a fly ball and went 0-for-3 in a May 15 loss at Boston, Gomez said he was costing the team by his play. More than anything, Gomez needed a mental break.

"To be honest, the last couple of weeks I haven't been having fun," he said. "When I have fun, I play good. The last couple of weeks, I took it too seriously and just thinking I'm not performing well and just not playing the game. Right now, I'm coming here to play and get that confidence back, and physically go back and be me."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.