|Luis Gonzalez makes his return to Arizona with Dodgers|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 16 April 2007 15:45|
After wearing Arizona's purple-accented uniform for eight years, outfielder Luis Gonzalez could joke about seeing the Diamondbacks in something they call ``Sedona Red.'' And he said he's learned to carpool with teammate Nomar Garciaparra to beat the traffic on the way to Dodger Stadium.
Gonzalez wasn't laughing about some of the other changes he noticed on his first trip to Chase Field since joining the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, who opened a two-game series at Arizona Monday night.
The Diamondbacks have removed photographs of the team's 2001 World Series triumph from the press dining room and painted over year-by-year lineups on a concourse near the clubhouse. That stung Gonzalez, the most popular player in their 10-year history.
``To me, that's the most disappointing thing when I walk into the stadium,'' Gonzalez said. ``It's me speaking, but I'm sure if you ask Steve Finley, Jay Bell, Matt Williams, Randy (Johnson), Curt (Schilling), all of the guys that were a part of that tradition - you try to build a tradition by winning, and I think we did that for those years, and for the them to erase that, that's the hurt part about it.
``I understand them changing colors and things like that, but when you erase guys that stuck together and brought a city together, brought the first world championship to the state of Arizona, then to erase all that, that bothers a little bit,'' Gonzalez said. ``But it's a new regime here,and that's the way they want to do it.''
One piece of history remains and is prominently displayed. A glass case displaying Gonzalez' jersey and the 2001 World Series trophy greets fans coming through the main gate.
But Gonzalez noticed that a year-by-year list of opening day lineups, along with All-Star appearances, was painted over in a tunnel between the clubhouses. The area is typically closed to fans but has been included in ballpark tours.
``I know they do the tours down here, when people used to walk down here, that's the first thing they look at is the lineups and who the players were, and who made the All-Star teams and what they did,'' Gonzalez said. ``And now to have all that painted over, it bothers me because I spent a lot of time here. Myself and my teammates took a lot of pride in going out there and representing the organization and representing the community as best we could.''
Gonzalez' words did not come as a surprise given his bitter parting with the Diamondbacks.
The club announced late last season that it would not exercise his $10 million option for 2007. Gonzalez signed a $7.35 million, one-year deal with the Dodgers, picked by many to win the balanced NL West.
The Diamondbacks didn't promote Gonzalez' return, but they didn't need to. Gonzalez became a local icon when his hit off the New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera won Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
``I remember that bloop single,'' said Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin, who remains close to Gonzalez. ``I think the whole state remembers that. It's still the only world championship this state has won.''
About 50 fans behind the visiting dugout cheered Gonzalez as he emerged for batting practice 90 minutes before game time. Arizona first baseman Tony Clark greeted Gonzalez with a hug, as did Bell, an instructor with the organization.
``I tried to come in low key,'' Gonzalez said. ``I don't really want to make it a bigger deal than what it is.''