Gomez returns to where it all started

Welcome to Milwaukee, Carlos Gomez. Or rather, welcome back.

Gomez, who made his Major League debut at Miller Park for the Mets on May 13, 2007, was at home in the Dominican capital of Santiago on Friday morning when he got a call he never expected.

“[Twins GM] Bill Smith called me and said, ‘I have good news and bad news,’” Gomez said. “I wanted the bad news first and he said, ‘I traded you. We needed a shortstop.’”

Gomez had been traded to the Brewers for shortstop J.J. Hardy in a swap of players coming off disappointing seasons.

Then came the good news.

“It’s going to be good for you,” Smith told Gomez, “because you need to play.”

He did not always get that opportunity in Minnesota. After a slow start at the plate in 2009, Gomez split time in center field with Denard Span but he’ll face no such logjam in Milwaukee. In making Friday’s trade, the Brewers formally cut ties with free agent center fielder Mike Cameron, a veteran who had manned center field and kept peace in the clubhouse for the past two seasons.

Gomez is just as slick defensively and is one of baseball’s fastest players but remains raw at the plate. In 348 games over parts of three Major League seasons, he’s a .246 hitter with a .292 on-base percentage, 12 home runs, 99 RBIs and 59 stolen bases in 70 tries.

“Coming back to the National League is exciting,” said Gomez, who began his career with the Mets. “It means you have a chance to play every day. Even if you don’t start, you’re probably going to get a chance as a pinch-hitter. In the American League, if you don’t start, you don’t play.

“But I don’t have pinch-hitting in my mind. I want to play every day.”

After speaking with Brewers GM Doug Melvin, Gomez felt assured he would get that opportunity.

“I don’t want to be a backup player. I’m too young to be a backup,” he said. “If Milwaukee wanted me, they know I can play every day. They want me to be an exciting player, but to make more contact, work the count. Get on base.

“It’s going to be exciting. I can’t wait to start.”

Gomez was also excited to meet his new fans in Milwaukee. He plans to take part in the Brewers’ Winter Warm-Up event in January.

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