05/05/2003 8:02 PM ET
Gonzalez the week's top AL hitter
Rangers slugger shares AL Player of the Week honor
2003 Player of the Week winners
The Rangers and the pitchers they've faced this season didn't have to be told that Juan Gonzalez is back to his old form. His bat has let them know already.
Still, that doesn't take away from the honor Gonzalez received Monday, when he was named American League Pepsi Co-Player of the Week for the period ending Sunday.
Gonzalez, who hit five of his Major League-leading 11 home runs last week, shared the honor with A's lefty and defending AL Cy Young winner Barry Zito, who went 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in his two starts last week. Rangers outfielder Carl Everett, who led the AL with 11 RBIs and also hit three homers last week, also was among the top candidates for the award.
The weekly award is a true sign that "Juan Gone" has returned.
A two-time AL MVP, Gonzalez saw his power numbers hit an all-time low last year as he was limited to just 70 games because of a torn ligament in his right thumb. He had only eight homers and 35 RBIs in 2002, so both he and the Rangers were looking forward to his return as one of the premier run producers in baseball in 2003.
He hasn't disappointed. He already has eclipsed his homers total from last year and he's on the verge of doing the same in RBIs, with 26 so far heading into Tuesday's opener of a three-game set against Toronto at The Ballpark in Arlington.
Last week was the best week of an already solid start for Gonzalez, who endured a bit of a dry spell in mid-April but has rebounded with a vengeance.
Gonzalez, who tied for the league lead with five homers and a 1.000 slugging percentage during the past week, collected 25 total bases to earn his fifth career weekly award. He batted .360 (9-for-25) with 10 RBIs and five runs scored. Gonzalez compiled all five homers and 10 RBIs in a three-game set at Toronto, in which the Rangers scored 33 runs. He now has three multihomer games on the season and 46 for his career, which is tied for 11th on the all-time list.
His five homers in the three-game set against Toronto marked only the fourth time in franchise history that feat has been accomplished. Frank Howard did it twice and Alex Rodriguez hit six in a three-game span last August. Gonzalez has hit safely in 15 of his last 19 games and leads the AL with four outfield assists.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By John Schlegel / MLB.com