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Gomez showing Twins how far he's come

Gomez showing Twins how far he's come

MILWAUKEE -- Carlos Gomez was batting third for the Brewers on Monday, a prime place to show his former manager he had developed into the sort of impact player Ron Gardenhire had always envisioned.

Gomez delivered the second multihomer game of his career -- both in the span of three games -- but the Brewers fell to the Twins, 6-3 at Miller Park. Gomez was not in the mood to celebrate his ninth and 10th home runs of the season.

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"You don't enjoy it when things are going like this," Gomez said.

Gardenhire managed Gomez in Minnesota in 2008 and 2009, and "managed" is the proper term, the way Gardenhire tells it. Four years later, Gomez is one of the National League's top early-season hitters, fifth in the league with a .326 batting average and ninth with a .943 OPS entering Monday.

"I thought we sent him right on his way," Gardenhire said. "I thought he learned a lot with us. Gomez was a lot of fun. I think everybody knew it from the time he was with the Mets, how much talent he had, if he could ever harness it and calm himself down enough.

"You never want to take away a guy playing the game with the enthusiasm that he plays it with, but some of the things he had to clean up. It sounds like he has. He got down to understanding what he's about as a player, and with all the ability that's a dangerous thing. He can do some damage. He can swing it, he's got a cannon, he can run. He's got all the tools. It's just a matter of harnessing it all and putting it to work in the right way."

Gomez batted .248 with a .293 on-base percentage in his two seasons with the Twins before that team traded him to the Brewers for shortstop J.J. Hardy. It was not until 2012 that Gomez began to get the most of his raw ability, resulting in a career-best .305 on-base percentage last year and a three-year contract extension this spring.

In Minnesota, the Twins tried to help Gomez harness his energy.

"I didn't agree with it, but they thought it was best for me at the time," Gomez said. "I still have respect for the manager, the coaches. Every time I see them, I tip my cap. Ron always talked to me like a son. It's fun and exciting to always play against your ex-teammates."

Four years ago, "he was loose cannon, No. 1," Gardenhire said. "I liked how he used to fake bunt. He'd tell us he was going to draw the guy in, the third baseman in. The third baseman was already in for the bunt. We said, 'Go-Go, you don't need to fake bunt and draw him in, he's already standing in there.' So then he would fake bunt, fake swing, fake bunt, all on one pitch. That's what we loved about him."

Aware that Gomez gets amped-up to play the Twins, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke spent some time Monday mulling where to place him in the lineup. Roenicke's hand was forced when Ryan Braun was sidelined by a right thumb injury and third baseman Aramis Ramirez needed the day to rest his balky right knee.

"Carlos doesn't have bad feelings toward that club," Roenicke said. "It's, 'Hey, I want to show them how far I've come."

Is there more to come?

"If there's more than what he's doing right now," Roenicke said. "You're talking about a superstar. He's playing great. Defense is good, he's stealing bases for us. The offensive part has been the biggest improvement, obviously. Everybody knew the other stuff was there, but it was the discipline at the plate, trying to be consistent. Now, whether he can do this the whole year, I don't know. He's a way tougher out now than he's ever been."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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