In addition to participating in tonight’s Home Run Derby, Carlos Gonzalez will have a chance to showcase his offensive prowess as a starter in Tuesday night’s All-Star game. NL manager Tony LaRussa announced his starting lineup today, and Gonzalez will serve as Designated Hitter and bat lead-off.
For Rockies fans, the hope will be that he does well and gets some attention on the national stage. As far as it concerns his opening at-bat against American League starter Justin Verlander, this may or may not happen. If free-swinging CarGo strides to the dish and does not get a hit, then many fans might miss his first plate appearance altogether. If the sometimes patient CarGo takes the AB, then he might be up at the plate long enough for fans in other markets to notice that a Rockie is the first hitter of the game.
I do not think anybody will be able to blame him for either approach. On the one hand, Verlander’s stuff is so nasty it might be best for CarGo to fire early if he gets a pitch he can somewhat handle. On the other, it might be best to see a couple of those “video-game-nasty” pitches before trying to put the ball in play. No matter what it will be no easy task to ignite the offense, especially if one considers the combination of the nerves of the beginning of the game, the pressure of being the only Rockie, and the task of facing Verlander.
I would say a couple things about the issue of nerves. First of all, CarGo has never seemed to be the type to get nervous. He always carries himself with a bit of swag, sometimes bordering on cockiness. Which is part of what I love about watching him play. Second of all, he will have a chance on Monday to have the stage all to himself, which should hopefully alleviate some of the nerves for his lead-off moment Tuesday.
Speaking for myself as a Rockies fan, I admittedly get excited when one of the players gets an opportunity like this. Even with the major disappointment that is this season, I am thrilled to have the chance to see CarGo in these two spots. Hopefully it will be a bright spot for the team and its fans.