Gonzalez can hit leadoff … or anywhere
By the end of last season, the Rockies’ best lineup had left fielder Carlos Gonzalez hitting leadoff and center fielder Dexter Fowler hitting second.
Gonzalez began realizing his power potential with 12 home runs after the All-Star break last season. Such a performance begs an interesting question: Does Gonzalez fit lower in the order?
Manager Jim Tracy can see that, but said Wednesday that Gonzalez is a much better fit atop the lineup the way this team is constructed.
“Am I sitting here saying to you that as we go along that it wouldn’t make sense that we give Brad Hawpe a much-deserved day off CarGo couldn’t hit fifth? He certinly could,” Tracy said. “But when you look at the structure of the club, this guy is tremendous — he’s a five-tool player. Depending on where you put him in the lineup, are you taking part of his game away from him?
“No disrespect meant to Todd [Helton], but I’m not asking Todd to steal bases. If Todd Helton is on base in front of a ‘Tulo’ [Troy Tulowitzki] and let’s say you put CarGo down there, then neither one of them would run.”
Gonzalez, 24, stole 16 bases in 89 games last year. He and Fowler, who turns 24 on March 22 and finished last year with 27 steals, could make a jump in that category after a year’s expereince,