DENVER -- Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez produced in mid-April when was not sleeping, having trouble breathing and his throat hurt like it never had.
"I had a really good night against [Giants pitcher Tim] Lincecum, and the next day I was feeling really bad and I scored two important runs," Gonzalez said. "I was feeling good at the plate, but not feeling good physically."
Strep throat ended up costing Gonzalez three games, and it took about a week for him to gain the strength back to pound opposing pitchers. Since April 24, when he hit two home runs against the Pirates at PNC Park, Gonzalez is hitting .412 (14-for-34) with seven home runs and 18 RBIs, plus an on-base percentage of .500.
The Rockies have called upon Gonzalez, 26, who won the National League batting title in 2010 and managed a .295 average and 92 RBIs last year despite missing extensive time with wrist injuries, to become more of a leader. But Gonzalez is a soft-spoken type. So he lets his hitting do the speaking for him.
"I'm seeing a lot more pitches," Gonzalez said. "I'm swinging at the right pitches. My hands are feeling well. When I feel that way, I feel I can hit any pitch. It doesn't matter what they throw me, if it's near the strike zone and I get a good swing, good things are going to happen."
Manager Jim Tracy is as entertained as anyone.
"I'm really anxious to see what unfolds during this homestand, where does it go?" Tracy said. "If it continues, this would become one very scary hitter to have to deal with in any given situation, depending upon the score of the game.
"He becomes a monster, like I referred to the center fielder of the Dodgers [Matt Kemp]."