Meet Colorado Rockies star left fielder Carlos Gonzalez.
His breakout year was 2010 when he finished third in the National League MVP voting and won a Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger award.
That year, he led the NL with a .336 batting average and belted 34 homers and drove in 117 runs.
He was named to the All-Star team last year and has won two Gold Gloves.
The left-handed power hitter from Venezuela was batting .297 with a .365 on-base percentage and .605 slugging percentage entering Friday. He also was leading the NL with 21 homers and 62 runs.
Gonzalez recently went one-on-one with Eagle-Tribune baseball reporter Christopher “Smitty” Smith.
Smitty: I’ve heard your favorite player growing up was Ken Griffey Jr
Gonzalez: Just growing up watching Griffey when he was with the Mariners, he was amazing. He was a fun guy to watch. And I remember growing up in Venezuela, how the time is so different. In Seattle, it’s three hours different. So I used to tell my mom before I go to bed, “Every time that Griffey steps on the plate just make sure you wake me up because I want to see every at-bat.”
And I had the opportunity to meet him in 2008 when he was playing for Chicago. And then last year, we have a Nike trip and I spent a lot of time with him playing golf.
Smitty: What do you talk about?
Gonzalez: Griffey is one of those guys that everything that he did was pretty much natural. He didn’t work out. He didn’t lift a lot or (watch) video or anything. He just stepped on the plate and did it all natural. For me, I kind of try to do the same way. I’m not a big video guy. I’m not a big lifting guy. So I just go out there and have fun like I always do it when I was a kid.
Smitty: Growing up, did you have a favorite Venezuelan player?
Gonzalez: I was a big-time Bobby Abreu fan. You know, left-handed outfielder — what I always wanted to do. And I had the same opportunity with him (as with Griffey). I play against him and watch him play when I was a kid and I consider him a friend now.
Smitty: If there is one guy in baseball right now who you’d like to talk hitting with, who would it be?
Gonzalez: I was with Miguel Cabrera during the World Baseball Classic, trying to pick his brain.
Smitty: Did he give you any good advice?
Gonzalez: Well, he’s a smart hitter. He really knows how to hit and the only thing he told me was, “Trust your hands. Use your hands.” I was like, “OK, is that all you got for me?” (laughing). But that was basically it. He was like, “Yeah, you have the talent. You know how to hit. All you have to do is trust your hands and wait for the right pitch to hit.
Smitty: What is the most important hitting stat?
Gonzalez: It’s the OBP. That’s impressive. That’s telling he can hit and at the same time he can be patient. He takes a lot of walks. The most opportunities you get on base, the most opportunities you get to score runs and to help the team.
If you take a walk and then you steal a base and you create that situation — you put yourself in scoring position — that’s a lot of help for the team.
Smitty: You play at Coors Field, the friendliest park to hit at. What is the toughest park to hit at?
Gonzalez: Well, San Francisco (AT&T Park) is pretty bad. The wind is always killing you. But at the same time, it’s a big park. You have a lot of opportunity to hit extra-base hits. It’s a triples heaven — but that’s it.
Smitty: I hear you bought a Ferrari after getting your first big contract. Do you have the best car on the team?
Gonzalez: Well, Tulo (Troy Tulowitzki) and I, we both have Ferraris.
Smitty: What is the next car you want to buy?
Gonzalez: I already have one: Mercedes SLS.
Smitty: Are you a big car fan?
Gonzalez: I like cars. My daddy was a mechanic when I was a kid. And that’s the reason I like cars because he’s in love with cars. He passed that on to me.
Smitty: What is your favorite sport to watch besides baseball?
Gonzalez: I like soccer.
Smitty: Which soccer player do you enjoy watching the most?
Gonzalez: Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s my favorite.
Smitty: Did you watch Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final?
Gonzalez: I watch it. I think it was the first time I stay in the room watching a hockey game. I can’t say I’m a hockey fan. But I really enjoyed the game. The crowd was unbelievable. It was amazing. The fans here — it was crazy. I didn’t know it would get that crazy and that fun.
Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyonMLB.