Gomez wins job, but Twins lose game to Cards

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's official: Carlos Gomez is Minnesota's center fielder and leadoff hitter.

Gomez formally won the job Monday, when competitors Denard Span and Jason Pridie were optioned to Class AAA Rochester before the Twins' 8-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Gomez, who was acquired by the Twins in the deal that sent Johan Santana to the New York Mets, went 1-for-5 with an infield single against St. Louis. He also struck out three times and was caught stealing.

It was a quiet clubhouse after Minnesota's roster was essentially set for opening day. Infielder Brian Buscher and right-hander Philip Humber also were optioned to Class AAA.

"I feel bad, and I feel good," Gomez said, referring to the mixed emotion of seeing teammates get cut and learning about his appointment. "I hit hard, steal bases, score runs. That's what I do."

Gomez, who is batting .278 this spring, set himself apart from Span and Pridie with his elite speed.

"Overall, the excitement that he brings and the way he runs the bases -- he brings that extra little flare right now," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He can ignite a baseball team. That's what we're looking for. I'm not asking the world of this young man. I'm asking him to just go out and play and have fun."

Rick Ankiel went 2-for-4 with a double for the Cardinals, lifting his spring average to .369. D'Angelo Jimenez's RBI single and Cesar Izturis' two-run single gave St. Louis a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Skip Schumaker hit a two-run single in the sixth.

Brad Thompson, competing for a spot in the Cardinals' rotation, allowed two runs and four hits in five innings. He struck out four and walked one.

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