BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
No Troy Tulowitzki.
Carlos Gonzalez is determined to help the Rockies stay afloat while their star is out until the end of July, and so far, he is backing it up by hitting two home runs and driving in four runs this weekend against the Phillies.
Gonzalez hit his 20th home run yesterday afternoon in the Rockies’ 5-2 victory over the Phillies yesterday afternoon at Coors Field.
Maybe the Rockies outfielder will not have enough votes to start in the All-Star Game, but he could convince voters that he is worthy of a MVP at the end of the year if he can play a role in leading the Rockies to the playoffs.
Gonzalez’s chances of winning the MVP will be good if the Rockies can survive while Tulowitzki is on the disabled list.
It’s a challenge Gonzalez is ready to embrace this year as a leader.
That was not the case last year.
He was frustrated when pitchers were walking him, so he didn’t get pitches to hit. It affected his play. He lost focus, and he wasn’t hustling when it was time. He mailed it in just like every member of the Rockies last year.
In the end, his actions basically forced Jim Tracy to resign as Rockies manager in the offseason. That bothered him in the offseason to the point he was ashamed of himself.
It was such a rough year for Gonzalez as he batted .316 with 22 home runs and 85 RBIs.
For any other player, that’s okay.
Gonzalez is not an ordinary player, though. He is a superstar that is supposed to hit 35 or more home runs and drive in at least 100 or more runs. He expects that from himself.
He has the desire to make amends for last year. He wants to show he can be trusted in picking the Rockies up without Tulowitzki. That feeling certainly is driving him to succeed.
Gonzalez is now an elder statesman for the Rockies. He has been with the organization since 2009. The team expects him to provide leadership for guys like Wilin Rosario and Nolan Arenado to follow. This is his opportunity to show how it’s done with him being the man.
With Tulowitzki’s absence, this gives the Rockies outfielder an opportunity to prove to MVP voters that he is not getting his numbers based on the protection the Rockies shortstop was providing in the lineup.
Gonzalez knows this isn’t a compliment when someone says his numbers are inflated when someone bats behind him. This can get a player’s ego hurt.
Now, it’s his chance to prove everyone wrong.
Gonzalez had to be doing soul-searching in the offseason to why he never gave the Rockies a lift last year when things were going bad for them.
He knows the losing falls on him being that he is the star on the team.
While he had many built-in excuses, no one wants to hear it. They want to see him lead by producing at the plate. That’s fair, and he knows that.
So far, Gonzalez embraced the idea of playing without Tulowitzki well.
Now, it’s only three games. Let’s see how he sustains this for a longer stretch.
Still, the feeling is he is having such a good year that he will be fine. The Rockies hope that’s the case. They need him to continue to play well as they hang around in the NL West race.
With the Rockies starting a nine-game road trip tonight against the Blue Jays, they need Gonzalez to continue to perform. This is why this trip is a good test to see how good Gonzalez can be without Tulowitzki.
If he can do well on this trip, he and the Rockies are going to be fine.
This is going to be good for the Rockies outfielder. This gets him out of his shell. This gets him to be locked in.
This will show how he has come a long way when it comes to maturing a a leader.
This is where Arenado and Rosario can take Gonzalez seriously by leading the way this month.
Gonzalez has so much going for him when it comes to his reputation and getting MVP votes. This is why he is determined to make sure there won’t be a repeat of last year.
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