All systems go for Gomez…for now

February 18, 2011 | 10:47 pm | 8  

The early signs are good with Colorado Rockies shortstop prospect Hector Gomez, although history says that can change in an instant and change markedly.

After his latest injury marred season, the star-crossed Gomez has recovered from the stress fracture in his lower back that limited him to 104 at-bats last year. He injured his back while being taken out on a double play in Double-A Tulsa’s second game last year and developed a stress fracture in the back during his rehab. It was July 16 before Gomez began a rehab assignment at short-season Class A Tri-City where he played 18 games.

He went to Tulsa but played just seven games before back problems flared up, ending his season Aug. 13 and causing Gomez to be scratched from the Arizona Fall League. But Gomez, who turns 23 on March 5, is playing without restrictions early in spring training.

“”He is full-go in terms of his health,” player development director Marc Gustafson said. “He’s been here for about a week now. He was with us in the Dominican mini-camp program (just before spring training). He played a bit in winter ball (in the Dominican).

“He looks great. He’s moving around well. He’s swinging the bat well. Everything is pain-free and full activity.”

Asked if Gomez’s lower back is in good enough shape for him to not just field but to dive for ground balls, Gustafson said, “Everything.”

Gomez undoubtedly would have major league service time at this point had he been able to stay healthy. Instead, he has yet to grab a toehold at Double-A, where Gustafson said Gomez will start the 2011 season.

After spending most of the 2006 season at Rookie Casper with 12 games that year at Tri-City, Gomez moved up to low Class A Asheville in 2007 for his first full professional season. There he played 124 games and accumulated 524 at-bats. He has played as many as 85 games and batted 335 times just one other time, at high Class A Modesto in 2009.

Gomez fouled a ball off his left leg in Modesto’s first game in 2008 and developed a stress fracture. He never played again that season after injuring his elbow during his rehab, necessitating Tommy John surgery in June. In 2009, Gomez missed a month at Modesto with a groin strain and played 83 games with 338 at-bats. And last year brought more time off for Gomez, who in the past three years has just 445 at-bats in 111 games.

Gomez will continue to play shortstop in the minors, although a position change is in his future with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki signed through 2020. Gomez should have little trouble moving to second base or even third base, Gustafson said, when the time comes.

But for now what Gomez needs most is to simply stay healthy. He hit 11 homers in 534 at-bats in that 2007 season at Asheville and seven homers in 338 at-bats in 2009 at Modesto. The Rockies believe Gomez will show more power and develop more patience at the plate if, for starters, he can have a second season with 500 at-bats.

“That’s what he needs is plate appearances,” Gustafson said. “He needs at-bats. He needs to be on the field every day. He knows that. We’ve talked to him about that. And the focus that he has right now, he’s in a good place.

“He is a very, very talented player. You can’t try to do more than what you’re capable of and with him, it’s just a matter of playing.”

8 Comments »

  • Ryan | February 19, 2011 | 12:06 am

    He’s blocked anyway, trade him before he gets hurt agin.

  • Trip | February 19, 2011 | 9:00 am

    I have to disagree with trading him.
    First all the other teams are well aware of his injury history and won’t give up much for him.
    Secondly, it’s not unusual for players to be moved around, especially from short stop which is usually your most athletic players. If someone can play SS, most likely than can play several other positions as well.

    Since Hector is only 23, I’d like to see the Rocks keep him and hope he can get over the injury bug. He is a very good athlete if he can stay healthy.

  • Cisco Kid | February 19, 2011 | 9:43 am

    “He needs at bats. He needs to stay on the field. We’ve talked to him about.”

    What the heck does this mean? Why put added pressure on the kid. Do the Rox think he’s enjoyed being hurt the past few seasons? All his injuries happened during game action. I’m sure he feels more badly about his injuries than the Rox brass do. He just needs to play the way he’s accustomed of playing without worrying about getting hurt. You can’t play up to your potential if you worry about getting hurt.

  • Ryan | February 19, 2011 | 4:00 pm

    I realize that most SS are athletic enough to play elsewhere, but Gomez’s value is mainly tied to him being a good defensive SS, his bat may or may not come around enough to play elsewhere.

  • Steve Foster | February 19, 2011 | 6:18 pm

    The Rockies have long anticipated moving Gomez to another position with second base the most likely destination and they believe he can be an impact major-league hitter.

  • Steve Foster | February 19, 2011 | 6:21 pm

    As far as Gomez needing at-bats, the team isn’t putting extra pressure on him. Gomez is well aware that his development has been slowed by injuries and that he needs to stay healthy in order to keep moving through the system. Rather than putting extra pressure on him, making that point clear may be extra incentive for him to make certain he is in good shape and stays that way.

  • Doctor_Christopher | February 19, 2011 | 8:32 pm

    This should be an interesting year for Gomez. As much as I have been in favour of pursuing Michael Young (as I said before, he is an All-Star who adds to the leadership of the club as well as having excellent ABs), I do not want to do anything to block again Gomez. I would love to see him play at AAA this season and then force a September call-up. As a SS, his defense could make this the best double-play partnership in the bigs…and for a long-time to come. He can be an exciting offenseive player as well. But he has to play 162 this year, somewhere. Players like Lopez, Nelson, adn EYJr should all be afraid that Gomeiz breathing down their necks, and given how much salary is committed to Helton, CarGo and Tulo (and hopefully Ubaldo soon), we have to have young players bust through (if you saw the article on Brandon Belt at PR, it is a reminder our competition is counting on contributions from their cheap young players).

    Come on Gomez…make us stand up and take notice. And do not trade this guy unless it gets us a piece that really will make this team WS bound.

  • Julian | February 19, 2011 | 10:49 pm

    I agree with Doc. Gomez has the potential to be an effective starter at 2B, or at least a good utility guy. It doesn’t make sense to trade him unless it becomes clear that there isn’t a place for him because others such as Chris Nelson prove to be better than he is, and only if we get something of equal or greater value in return. I think that EY will draw the short straw in the 2B competition.