CarGo slugs way to All-Star berth

CarGo slugs way to All-Star berth

CarGo slugs way to All-Star berth
DENVER -- The nice designer clothes he sometimes wears during photographs, the fancy car that showed up on a Twitter dispatch and the taco commercials are all part of the excitement Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez generates.

But Sunday morning, when the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell announced his first invitation to the Midsummer Classic, Gonzalez was at home plate at Coors Field doing about the only activity he likes more than hitting. It was Family Day for Rockies players, and Gonzalez was pitching to his girlfriend's toddler son. Then the young boys of Michael Cuddyer and Jeremy Guthrie, who were wearing T-shirts with their father's names on the back, took their cuts against "CarGo."

Gonzalez was named to the National League squad through player voting. The Rockies also pushed for NL manager Tony La Russa to add right-handed setup reliever Matt Belisle as a manager's choice, but it did not happen.

National League roster
C Buster Posey, SF
1B Joey Votto, CIN
2B Dan Uggla, ATL
SS Rafael Furcal, STL
3B Pablo Sandoval, SF
OF Melky Cabrera, SF
OF Carlos Beltran, STL
OF Matt Kemp, LAD
RHP Matt Cain, SF
LHP Aroldis Chapman, CIN
RHP R.A. Dickey, NYM
LHP Gio Gonzalez, WAS
LHP Cole Hamels, PHI
RHP Joel Hanrahan, PIT
LHP Clayton Kershaw, LAD
RHP Craig Kimbrel, ATL
RHP Lance Lynn, STL
LHP Wade Miley, ARI
RHP Jonathan Papelbon, PHI
RHP Stephen Strasburg, WAS
RHP Huston Street, SD
C Yadier Molina, STL
C Carlos Ruiz, PHI
1B Bryan LaHair, CHC
2B Jose Altuve, HOU
SS Starlin Castro, CHC
SS Ian Desmond, WAS
3B David Wright, NYM
OF Ryan Braun, MIL
OF Jay Bruce, CIN
OF Carlos Gonzalez, COL
OF Andrew McCutchen, PIT
OF Giancarlo Stanton, MIA

Gonzalez, who not in the starting lineup for Sunday's finale of a three-game set with the Padres, entered the day leading the NL in total bases with 174 and runs with 59. He was second in RBIs with 58, tied for fourth in home runs with 17 and sixth in hitting at .337.

Gonzalez, 27, is as quiet in his demeanor as he is loud in production. He has handled his success in much the same way as he has handled a difficult Rockies season, by simply going about his job. The struggles of the starting rotation and key injuries -- such as the left groin issues that have cost the team two-time All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and will keep him out about seven more weeks -- have pushed the Rockies to well below .500.

But Gonzalez went into Sunday on a nine-game hit streak, the longest active run in the NL, during which he has hit .371 with three doubles, a triple, seven RBIs and one run scored.

"I'm not going to lie," Gonzalez said. "Sometimes you get tired because losing gets old. I get mad at myself. But we all want to win. All the other players feel the same way. Sometimes you try too hard and lose what you're doing because you're trying too hard to make something happen. But you have to stay positive and believe you can turn things around.

The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 5:30 p.m. MT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on

Before this season, Gonzalez was prone to lengthy early-season slumps. He started slowly this year, but that began to change when he blasted two home runs in a 5-4 loss at Pittsburgh on April 24. Since then, he has been the Rockies' most consistent player.

Hitting coach Carney Lansford said the left-handed-hitting Gonzalez keeping a controlled pace on his leg kick has keyed his consistency.

"If he picks it up early, nice and easy, then he's great," Lansford said. "He recognizes rotation of pitches. If he speeds it up, that's when he chases a lot of balls out of the zone. He's been able to stay consistent, and that was the whole key, figuring out his key and his timing."

Gonzalez has produced even in the absence of Tulowitzki, who hit cleanup while Gonzalez hit third, not that he'd prefer it that way.

"I'm happy because I keep being consistent," Gonzalez said. "But I definitely miss my shortstop hitting behind me every night, and watching him make great plays in front of me."

Gonzalez earned a Rawlings Gold Glove in 2010 and arguably should have won one last year, but a new voting system that broke the outfield into three positions hurt because Gonzalez played all three. Moving full-time to left was an adjustment early, but Gonzalez has come around.

"He is one of the more graceful players I have even managed, no question," Tracy said. "It really shows up on the defensive side. You see him out there and you think, 'Hey, he's not moving, he's not going to get to the ball.' And most of the time he's catching the ball like right here [motions to mid chest].

"The accuracy of his throwing arm, when he goes to the line and cuts the ball off and does a 360 turn and throws without picking up the target because he really doesn't have time to do that, and still have a chance to throw a runner out -- it's as good a I have ever seen. I have never seen anything like that."

Gonzalez has been challenged at times to provide more leadership, but the vocal way is not his. He is engaging in small conversations but never one to do much in front of a large audience of teammates. He is getting past his silence. During the Euro 2012 soccer tournament, he wore the jersey of his favorite player, Cristiano Ronaldo, and sat and cheered in front of the television with other soccer fans on the team.

Smiling, Gonzalez said he sometimes wishes he spoke more. But what he wants to say to the team, he believes, is happening without a word said.

"What I'd want to say is we can't just accept losing, and I don't think we are," Gonzalez said. "We have been struggling, but you can look up and down the lineup and see that guys are doing things to try to win. Every day, we're looking at what went wrong and what we can do better next time."

Especially proud of Gonzalez was Rockies infielder Jonathan Herrera. The two grew up near one another in Venezuela, and were friends even though they played on rival teams in their youth. They were reunited at Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2009 when Gonzalez, originally a D-backs signee, joined the Rockies in the trade with the Athletics. The Rockies gave up All-Star Matt Holliday in the deal, but now they can say they have an All-Star in return.

"When we were young, I used to be really tall and he was smaller; now you can see he's 200 pounds and I'm 180," Herrera said. "He's hitting the homers, where I used to hit them.

"But he's the same guy. His attitude is the same. He's really nice and he plays hard."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.