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Brewers' speedy new CF Gomez working on swing

PHOENIX (AP) — Carlos Gomez is into fast things. The Brewers center fielder quickly jumps from subject to subject and lists a bevy of hobbies that include watching world class sprinters and shooting guns at firing ranges.

Oh, and he thinks a sprint against 100-meter champion Usain Bolt would be closer than you think.

"It's going to be close," Gomez said of his favorite track star. "If you run with people real fast, you're like, 'I almost got him.' But just a little time is a lot."

Gomez is almost too fast for his own good, and the Brewers wouldn't mind him slowing down just a little.

He tends to be too quick on his swing and he's noticed that he has been looking toward the pitcher instead of contact too often.

"When I swing, I'm not looking where I'm going to hit the ball," he said. "I'm looking a little more in front me."

When that happens, he tends to pop up — a lot. Gomez's numbers with the Twins dwindled from a .258 average and 33 stolen bases in 2008 to .229 and 14 steals as his playing time decreased.

Hitting coach Dale Sveum has worked with him extensively and manager Ken Macha would like to see Gomez hit more grounders so he can flash his impressive speed.

"He's got start grinding it out and whatever it takes to make some adjustments. The ability's there," Sveum said. "You've got to be able to make adjustments, because hitting .200 isn't going to get it done."

Gomez knows he's going to get every opportunity to succeed in Milwaukee. General manager Doug Melvin dealt popular former All-Star shortstop J.J. Hardy to Minnesota for the center fielder.

"They traded an All-Star, there (aren't) a lot of shortstops like him. It made me feel proud," Gomez said. "One-to-one, to get traded and I got traded for the All-Star, this is a good feeling."

Defensively, Gomez's game is well ahead of his offense. It's something that should benefit both left fielder Ryan Braun and right fielder Corey Hart.

"He's tremendous defensively ... if the ball's hit in the air anywhere, he's got a good chance to track it down," Braun said. "He's one of those guys that's an incredible athlete. Hopefully he figures it out sooner than later."

For all his speed and ability to cover ground on defense, he makes it a point to say he isn't little. At 6-foot-4 and listed at 215 pounds (though he says he's likely about 10 pounds heavier than that) Gomez could develop into a power hitter if he can work out some of his issues with his swing.

"I feel so good right now, the last few at-bats, I've got great contact," he said. "That's really important to me because when you've got good contact, something is going to happen."

One thing that he thinks can help him this season is all his time at the shooting range, where he goes with friends in the offseason in the Dominican Republic to work on his marksmanship — up to six or more hours at a time.

"Like 6,000 bullets," Gomez said. "I'm good, I'm good. The last three years, I've done this almost like every day. I'm getting better. I'm still working."

He says practicing shooting is a lot like hitting because he has to be calm and still to have success.

"You've got to stop and slow down and do it," he said. "You have to be concentrating."

But, Gomez believes the Brewers chances for the postseason will be more like watching a track meet than aiming for a bullseye, and a fast April will be the key.

"If you start hot, it breaks up everything. You can get cold in the middle, but in September, if you're still winning something's going to happen," Gomez said. "When the team wins early, win, win, win, win, then September is the really important month. If you win more than half of the games in September, you're in, for sure."