Luis Gonzalez moves from the field to behind-the-scenes of baseball

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Outfielder Luis Gonzalez became a hometown hero when he helped lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to their first and only World Series championship in 2001, but now he works with the league from behind the scenes as an adviser Derrick Hall, the Diamondback’s current president.

“Gonzo” says he feels like he can still go out there to the field and play with some of these younger guys, but he’s gaining a new appreciation for the game by not playing. He’s able to watch the young players work their way up to the big leagues and see their maturity grow from one year to the next.

“I realize now that there’s a lot more that spins the wheel than players just going out and playing the game,” Gonzalez says. “There’s a lot more behind-the-scenes that goes on with acquisitions, scouts, players, the daily grid of sponsorships and other things.”

The Diamondbacks are definitely a team to keep your eye on this season. They beat the Colorado Rockies in the Wild Card Game last year and ended up falling short to the LA Dodgers in NLDS. The players have one job – go out, play and win. When you don’t win, you go back to the field and start practicing. Gonzalez now has a different duty when the team isn’t so hot.

“The guys on the field are the main characters,” Gonzalez says. “When they go, the rest of the organization goes. The hard part is when your team isn’t playing well. I see how hard everyone works behind the scenes because you still have to sell. You still have to promote the team and make the fans still want to come to the ballpark.”

A few new rules have been added to the books as an attempt to speed up the typical 3 hour-long games. Gonzalez has mixed feelings toward that change. He says the main reason we see the games lasting so long is because the starting pitchers don’t last as long as they used to. There are more matchups between pitcher and hitter to the point where a team may have five or six different pitchers in one game.

“I would like to see starter pitchers go deeper into the game, but that’s not how they’re being trained in the minor leagues,” Gonzalez says. “Everyone is cautious with arm injuries and things like that. You’re getting guys now who are 17, 18, 19 years old who are throwing the ball 95, 96, 97 miles an hour. Back in the day, there were only a handful of guys who could throw 90 plus miles an hour.”

The work ethic has also shifted in the sport. The days of grabbing a cold one after a game are long gone. Now you see players spending time lifting weights and rehydrating after a game with protein shakes. The intensity of a game and the talent of the players have gone to a different level because of that.

The Diamondbacks face the Rockies for Opening Day on March 29.

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