NEW YORK -- Shea Stadium is a parking lot now. Carlos Gomez's memories from there are not.
As the Brewers All-Star outfielder sat at a media table down the street at Citi Field on Monday and talked with reporters about his days here, the memories were fresh.
This is where he made his Major League debut six years ago, a 21-year-old top prospect and one of the prizes of the Mets' farm system. It was the biggest moment of his career, the product of four years of work up the developmental ladder, but there was something missing from it.
His parents, Carlos Sr. and Belgika, couldn't be there. They were stuck in the Dominican Republic.
"My first big league game, they weren't here because they didn't have a visa," Gomez explained.
As sweet as the moment was for him, it was emotional not to have his parents with him for it. Now, he has a chance to make up for it, and then some, joining Jean Segura as the two players representing the Brewers in Tuesday night's All-Star Game here.
"I have the opportunity to bring my parents and brothers along with my wife and my kids. That means a lot to me," Gomez said. "Now, finally I'm in the big game, an All-Star, and to be around them with the best players in the game, it's really proud for me. ...
"It's like a kid when they get a lot of new toys. I'm really tired but I'm really excited. I can't wait to get on the field. And when they mention my name to go to the line [for introductions], I'm going to put on my hat and point to my family."
He feels like a kid again, but his growth as a player since then to get back there has been massive. For those who remember him, he might well be a different player.
He was a gifted speedster and leadoff hitter coming up, swiping 105 bases over a two-year stretch in the Mets farm system before that 2007 season. He carried that style into the first five years of his Major League career, but carried a low batting average and on-base percentage to counteract it.
It was around this point last year when things changed for him. Gomez is batting .288 with 28 home runs and 78 RBIs since last year's All-Star break, including .295 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs this season.
If speed and defense got him to the big leagues with the Mets, his all-around play brought him back to New York.
"In the past, everybody looked at me like a speed guy, try to hit the ball on the ground and bunt. Now I don't try to do that," Gomez said. "Now I step to the plate, and every time I think I can hit a home run to center field. That's my approach, and everything has come together.
"From this time last year to now, if you look at my numbers, it's really amazing, almost 30 home runs and 80-90 RBIs in almost 600 at-bats total. Why not continue to do that approach?"
That's not a dig at the Mets, Twins or anybody else along the way. He has no hard feelings toward the Mets for trading him, he insists. He's actually thankful the way matters turned out.
"I mean, for that time, six years ago, it was the best for me to leave," Gomez said. "I'm a part of the trade for Johan [Santana], to get the best pitcher in the game at the moment, and Minnesota needed a center fielder. That's the reason I had to go to Minnesota. But if that's not coming, I'd probably still be here, because I'm the one franchise guy and they really liked me and they were going to give me the opportunity. But it's the business, and I go to Minnesota and get the opportunity there for two years and now I am in Milwaukee.
"To be back in New York is really fun. ... I'm really proud to be here to represent my team, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the National League. I say, thank you, God, for giving me the opportunity."
To an extent, Gomez's Brewers and All-Star teammate can relate. A year ago, Segura was still in the Angels' farm system, a highly rated shortstop prospect whose path to the big leagues had a roadblock. Zack Greinke's trade out of Milwaukee brought Segura into an organization that needed him.
He not only had a Major League spot, he had an organization willing to give him ample time to learn. His .325 batting average, an NL-high 121 hits, including eight triples and 11 homers to go with 36 RBIs have sped up the process.
"It's special," Segura said. "A couple years ago, I'm in the Minor Leagues trying to get to this point, and now look at where I am right now. I'm in the big leagues. I've made the All-Star team. This is amazing. This is like a dream come true."
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th 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. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.