Carlos Gomez is one of the rare players who can make hitting for the cycle look routine. That's surely what dozens of current and former teammates are thinking when they learn he did it Saturday night for the second time in his career.They've all pretty much said it, everyone from
Carlos Gomez is one of the rare players who can make hitting for the cycle look routine. That's surely what dozens of current and former teammates are thinking when they learn he did it Saturday night for the second time in his career.
They've all pretty much said it, everyone from Ryan Braun to Jose Altuve to Carlos Beltran. When Gomez is at his best, there aren't many better players in the game.
To hit for the cycle requires every skillset in the toolbox. There's power and timing. There's speed and baserunning. To be able to show 'em all off is special.
This is what he did for the Rangers in a 6-3 victory over the Angels:
1. Double in first inning.
2. Single in third inning.
3. Triple in fifth inning.
4. Homer in seventh inning.
He began the day by telling his 8-year-old son, Yandel, he would do something to make his eighth birthday special. He finished it by becoming the 10th player to hit for the cycle in Texas Rangers history.
Afterward, he seemed to appreciate the standing ovation from the fans in center field at Globe Life Park most of all.
"It's something that makes you feel really good, when you have the crowd pushing for you," he said. "It's something that makes you feel like you need to come here every single day and give everything you have because the fans support you so really good."
Gomez also hit for the cycle in 2008 as a member of the Twins. Here's what the Rangers are hoping: OK, this is the Carlos we were counting on when we re-signed him during the offseason. This game will get him going, and in doing so, help us get going, too.
Gomez began the day hitting .205. Still, Rangers manager Jeff Banister stuck with him because he'd seen enough through the years to know what Gomez can do. Banister had seen Gomez at his best when he was a bench coach for the Pirates and Gomez was a center fielder for the Brewers.
When Gomez struggled mightily during parts of two seasons with the Astros in 2015-16, Banister went out of his way to approach him and strike up a conversation at every opportunity.
"You're a great player, Carlos," Banister would tell him. "You're going to get it going. Just wait until we're out of town to get hot."
When the Astros tired of waiting for a Gomez turnaround and released him last summer, Banister led the charge to give him a chance.
He didn't like the mechanical things he'd seen in Gomez's swing with Houston, especially the rushing and the frantic nature of some of the swings. Before the Rangers signed Gomez, Banister asked some of his players to speak to him and ask him if he was willing to make changes.
Gomez went to Triple-A Round Rock and did everything he was told. On Aug. 25, he hit a three-run home run in his first game with the Rangers. That was the beginning of a 33-game stretch in which Gomez hit .284 with a .905 OPS and helped Texas win the American League West.
This spring, Gomez said felt born again, that he finally was close to being the player he always knew he could be.
During 11 seasons with five teams, his only enemy has been himself. He plays the game at 150 mph, and that's not always a good thing. Sometimes, he cares too much. When he's struggling, he's prone to swing so hard he'll corkscrew himself into the ground. In one of these stretches, he will attempt to steal every base, run into every wall.
Here's the other thing to know about Gomez: There may not be a more beloved player in baseball. He has a sweet, sweet soul, a caring nature. He wants to please everyone.
In Milwaukee, where Gomez spent six seasons and made two All-Star teams, he remains a very popular player. He signed more autographs, posed for more photos and did more community appearances than almost anyone. He loved it, too, loved the fans, fell in love with the city.
He was booed some by Astros fans after joining the club in the second half of the 2015 season and starting slowly. He responded to the booing by pressing, by trying to get the fans on his side.
When the Astros finally gave up on him, Gomez seemed more relieved than upset. He saw the Rangers as a chance for a fresh start. When he became a free agent last offseason, he didn't consider going elsewhere.
"This is the team that believed in me," he said. "You don't forget something that."
He won't soon forget a game like the one he had Saturday night. The Rangers hope this is the real beginning of his 2017 season.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice.