The Twins will see a very different Carlos Gomez when they make their annual visit to Miller Park beginning Monday.
Gomez, the toolsy former Twins outfielder who once prompted Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire to say, "He irritates people, sometimes me," is getting the most out of his talent these days. After signing a three-year contract with the Brewers during Spring Training, Gomez enters Monday's series opener with a .326 batting average, ranking him in the top 10 in the National League. He also finds himself in the top 10 in extra-base hits, triples, total bases and slugging percentage. He logged his first career multihomer game against the Pirates on Saturday.
He's come a long way from the hitter who batted .248 with a .293 on-base percentage in two years (2008-09) with the Twins.
"My last year, there was a tough time because I wanted to play more, but I wasn't playing too good," Gomez said. "But there are no bad feelings from me for Ron or the Twins. That's a team that gave me two years of having a job. I appreciate it."
And the difference now?
"Four years later," Gomez said. "A lot of learning, a lot of work, more experience. I have the opportunity to play right now to play like I want to play, do the things that I want to do, not do the things that people wanted me to do when I didn't agree. [Brewers coaches] see it: I'm better like that. But I know I had to prove it."
Gomez was originally signed by the Mets in 2002 at the age of 16. He later made his Major League debut with New York in 2007, but -- after hitting .232 with two home runs in 58 games that season -- he was traded to the Twins in the deal that sent Johan Santana to the Mets.
"You gotta remember when this guy was on the Mets he was a top prospect; they said this guy could be a 30-, 40-home run guy with speed, the whole package," Gardenhire said. "He has a lot of tools. And whether he was going to be calm enough to be able do those things, you never knew. He's probably still excited, but he's calmed down and matured through the years."
Very few of Gomez's 2009 Twins teammates remain: hitters Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and pitchers Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing and Anthony Swarzak. Gardenhire, of course, is also still around, and the skipper acknowledges that he still keeps an eye on Gomez and is looking forward to seeing his former outfielder in-person.
"He's another one of my favorites," Gardenhire said of Gomez. "You never knew what he was going to do. He's entertainment. I still love watching that guy play."
Twins: Correia looking to bounce back
Minnesota will turn to Kevin Correia in the series opener, as the right-hander looks to bounce back from his worst outing of the season last Monday.
Correia, who leads the Twins' starting rotation with a 3.90 ERA, surrendered a season-high five runs while lasting just four innings against the Braves in his shortest start of the season.
"As far as this season," Correia said, "I think that was the only start that I didn't feel like I had good command of something I could go with."
Brewers: Ramirez likely to sit out series opener
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez will most likely be held out of Monday's lineup after starting three straight games over the weekend for the first time since returning from a month-long stint on the disabled list with a sprained knee.
"Aramis is feeling a little better; that's why we feel we can go another day with him," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Sunday morning. "I asked him a couple of days ago and again [Saturday] what he thought. He wanted to play [Sunday]. So, we'll see what happens [Monday]."
• Right-hander Wily Peralta will take the hill for Milwaukee, hoping to snap a three-start losing streak. Peralta (3-5, 6.45 ERA) is coming off a disastrous start Wednesday against the Dodgers in which he allowed six runs (four earned) off seven hits over just 1 2/3 innings of work. In his last three outings combined, he has allowed 17 runs (13 earned) over 12 2/3 frames.
• Since the franchise was founded in 1969, the Brewers have played more games (441) against the Twins than any other team. Minnesota leads the all-time series, 226-215.