Once upon a time, Luis Gonzalez was the face of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
An All-Star as well as MVP candidate who collected a World Series-winning hit, he was the single player fans identified the team by.
Since he retired the club has turned to a few different players, including Eric Byrnes and Justin Upton. Neither was up to the challenge of the role.
Enter Paul Goldschmidt, who has quickly become the team’s best and most recognizable player. The problem is, while he’s hitting .311 with 19 home runs and an NL-best 66 RBI, he’s not exactly the most recognizable of players.
“The only thing that is holding him back right now is the fact that we play on the West Coast,” said Gonzalez, now a special assistant to team president and CEO Derrick Hall. “On the East Coast, when we’re playing, everybody’s asleep.
“So they read about him the next day in the paper but not a lot of people get to watch him.”
A guest of Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Wednesday, Gonzalez said making the All-Star team — which Goldschmidt is practically assured of doing — will do a lot to increase his profile nationally.
But as anyone can tell you, the 25-year-old is not exactly one looking for increased attention. In fact, he seems to try and turn the spotlight away from him at every opportunity.
Does that need to change?
“I think he’s a soft-spoken guy that carries a big stick,” Gonzalez said. “Every team has different characters on the team, whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, hockey, whatever it is, and he knows how to adapt to this team.
“He understands that he doesn’t need to speak much, there’s other veteran guys on the team that are always speaking. He just has to go out there and continue to do what he’s done the first half of this season and what he’s done in his career, which is just quietly go out there and do this.”
However, Gonzalez added that at some point he expects Goldschmidt to grow into the role of a vocal leader when the time comes.
“After some of these veterans leave I think he’ll realize that ‘now I’m the voice of the ball club, I need to move into that role,'” he said. “And he may be the guy right now, we just don’t know it behind closed doors.
“But to all the fans, he doesn’t really need to say much. He’s doing it all on the field and that’s what fans respect him for, and personnel respects him because he doesn’t say much and he goes out there and does it on the field.”