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Luis Gonzalez: ‘There were times’ where Justin Upton didn’t provide leadership

LISTEN: Luis Gonzalez, D-backs Legend

Former Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez knows a thing or two about clubhouse chemistry, and unlike ESPN MLB insider Keith Law, thinks it’s a vital element towards building a championship-caliber culture.

Gonzalez, having been part of the D-backs’ lone World Series team back in 2001, says that while Justin Upton is a great player, the organization had a desire to add more lunch pail-type assets in the offseason.

So while Thursday’s decision to move Upton in a blockbuster deal with the Atlanta Braves might have ruffled some feathers in the Valley, the five-time All-Star said the D-backs received exactly what they were looking for.

“What we’ve gained now, is a couple of blue collar guys that are going to play the D-back way,” Gonzalez, now a special assistant to team president and CEO Derrick Hall, told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Thursday. “Which means they’ll go out there and play hard, give everything they’ve got.

“We love Justin Upton, of course the fans are going to miss him and we’re going to miss him… But at the same time, this is a business in baseball. What we are trying to do is make our team better.”

While Gonzalez said the team will miss Upton’s skill set both in the field and at the plate, the former D-back was rather candid in suggesting that at times the star outfielder was his own worst enemy.

“There were times when Justin was on, he was a superstar,” said Gonzalez. “But when he was off, he would get in his shell and would have those slumps and those streaks.

“When you’re in the middle of that lineup you have to be that rock every day when you’re going good and when you’re going bad. You have to provide that leadership for your teammates… Personally for me, there were times where (Justin) didn’t have that.”

Although he understands why plenty of the attention has been centered around the 25-year-old outfielder since the deal was announced Thursday morning, Gonzalez said fans should be happy with what the organization received in return.

“I think we got a pretty good player in return,” said Gonzalez referring to former All-Star Martin Prado, who played five positions with the Braves. “Not only that, but we have that depth in the outfield, and we are able to explore different options.

“Maybe, people think we got short-changed in the deal. But in the long run for us, we’ve added depth with not only two young pitchers (Randall Delgado and Zeke Spruill), but another young shortstop (Nick Ahmed) in the deal. We’ve continued to stockpile what we have.”

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