Gonzalez Happy to Return

Long-time veteran Raul Gonzalez returned to the Mets organization of a long hiatus that sent him around the big leagues and eventually the Mexican League. Now back stateside, Gonzalez hopes to turn around his game.

Photo by Gillian Rich

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Thirty-four year old outfielder, Raul Gonzalez, who last played in the Mets organization in 2002-2003, returns to Triple-A and the Mets after spending last season playing in Mexico In his first at bat as a Met, Gonzalez hit a homer off the Houston ace Roy Oswalt, then during his five years in the Majors, Gonzalez also played for the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.

It was in 2002, that Gonzalez was named the Most Valuable Player of the Triple-A International League and was also selected to the All-Star team representing Louisville.

Gonzalez has an interesting background as he toured Europe and South America as a teenager playing amateur baseball, and then began his professional career in 1991 as a 17th round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals.

He sees his time in New Orleans not as a step down, but as another opportunity to play baseball in the United States.

"I've seen another opportunity here and I'm glad to be here. I get a chance to come back to organized baseball and I'm going to make the most of the opportunity to try and do my best," Gonzalez said.

While Gonzalez admits the Mexican League is not as challenging as baseball in the US, he is grateful for his time spent playing in Mexico for Vaqueros Laguna. He was fairly successful in the league, with a .278 batting average and two home runs in 162 at-bats.

"The Mexican League is a good league, but it is not as organized as baseball is in the States. I've got to thank the Mexican League that I got to keep playing for a year and a half and it helped me get back to Triple-A baseball," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez returns to American baseball after signing a minor league contract with the Mets in June. As he played for the Mets before, he is comfortable with their system.

"I was here before so it was a great opportunity to come back and I'm grateful to be back here," Gonzalez said.

He is also comfortable with the Zephyrs system as he has had success in the Pacific Coast League before his move to Mexico. In 2005 he was named a PCL Mid-Season All-Star for his 14 home runs and 50 RBI's with the Memphis Redbirds. As of June 27, Gonzalez was batting at a .315 clip, leading the Zephyrs. Gonzalez realizes success at the Triple-A level comes from hard work.

"You've got to work hard and you've got to come ready to play everyday and be ready for anything. Got to prepare and do the best you can every day," Gonzalez said.

While his numbers so far are not as good as those posted with Memphis in 2005, he still has a positive outlook for his time in New Orleans, hoping to put up good numbers and maybe spend a sixth season in the Majors.

"Stay healthy and have good numbers and try to get back to the big leagues," Gonzalez said.

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