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Alex Gonzalez happy but humble


rferry
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He is one half of Florida's dynamic duo, and the pride of Cagua, Venezuela.

 

His manager, Jack McKeon, calls him the best in the game, and fans in South Florida will always regard him as a World Series hero.

 

He is Alex Gonzalez, the Marlins' shortstop, and being Gonzalez these days is a pretty good thing. He has a World Series ring the size of a small remote control, and he teams with second baseman Luis Castillo to form one of the most potent double-play combinations in the big leagues.

 

The sky is the limit as far as his baseball future is concerned, but it's his humble demeanor and memories of his baseball past that keep his feet planted firmly on the ground.

 

"It's all about hard work and giving 100 percent every day you play," said the 27-year-old Gonzalez. "The most important thing for me is not to get here to the Major Leagues. It's to stay here and have a good career. There are a lot of players who get here and some good players in Triple-A who make it here, but for how long? I plan on being here for a long time."

 

Gonzalez talks about his days in the minor leagues as if they were yesterday, not five years ago. The soft-spoken infielder is quick to remind anybody where he comes from -- Venezuela and the Gulf Coast League Marlins, otherwise known as "rookie ball."

 

In that order.

 

"When you are a kid, you [watch] players make it and dream of playing here, and I feel very fortunate," he said. "But I worked very hard to get here. Kids have to remember that it takes hard work to get here or to accomplish any goals in life. I give thanks to God that I am here."

 

Marlins scout Levy Ochoa signed Gonzalez in 1994 as a non-drafted free agent. After a stint in the Dominican Summer League, Gonzalez finished 10th in the Gulf Coast League in 1995, with a .294 average.

 

His future came into question after he started the 1996 season on the disabled list because of a left shoulder problem and missed three months following surgery. He spent two more stints on the disabled list that season because of both the shoulder and a strained right thumb.

 

But through hard work, Gonzalez persevered and made the jump to Double-A in 1997 after only 21 games at the Class A level. His meteoric rise continued, and he was rewarded for a solid season at Triple-A in 1998 with a promotion to the bigs that August.

 

Gonzalez hit .151 with three home runs and seven RBIs in his first 25 games at the Major League level, not impressive numbers by any standard, but he was happy to be playing at the highest level.

 

In 1999, Gonzalez was named to the National League All-Star team as a rookie, and he has steadily progressed each season since then, culminating in career-bests in almost every offensive category last season.

 

Thus far this season, he is hitting .212 with 12 RBIs and three home runs in 43 games.

 

It doesn't look as if he is going anywhere.

 

"Gonzalez is the best in the league," said McKeon. "He is a very quiet, businesslike guy who goes out there and does his job. He doesn't need a lot of fanfare. He goes out there and gets it done. What else can you ask for?"

 

"I want to maintain consistency throughout the season, defensively and offensively, and build on what we did last year," said Gonzalez. "There is not a lot of pressure on us or me to do it again. We surprised a lot of people, but we knew what we had here. It's the same thing this year. We prepared ourselves for this season, and we'll let it come."

 

Gonzalez will be forever ingrained in the memories of the Florida faithful for his efforts during the Marlins' 2003 World Series championship run, as he hit a walkoff home run against Yankees pitcher Jeff Weaver in the 12th inning of Game 4.

 

Gonzalez said that as long as he lives, he will never forget the elation of hitting a game-winner and the feeling of satisfaction after defeating the Yankees for the title.

 

"The home run was a proud moment for me," he said. "We worked so hard as a team to get there. We all did our part, and for me to hit a home run and us to win the World Series was incredible.

 

"With good health, we can do what we expect to do again. If we cut down on the injuries and maintain our strong mentality, we can do what we did last year or maybe even win more games."

 

Gonzalez knows that with hard work, anything is possible. He has the ring to prove it.

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When McKeon says he gets the job done...he is talking about defensively, right?

Yeah

 

Sea bass gets his hits everynow and then he gets on a hitting streak but then just dies.

 

Defense, i cant say nothing about that, one of the best Defensive short stops out there today.

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The sky is the limit as far as his baseball future is concerned, but it's his humble demeanor and memories of his baseball past that keep his feet planted firmly on the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is one of the stupidest comments I've ever read. He isn't Pujols or Cabrera we are talking about. It is Alex Gonzalez. He CAN'T hit.

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