CHICAGO -- Luis Gonzalez is a pretty unassuming and easygoing fellow, so maybe it's appropriate that his All-Star appearance was quiet. But even more characteristic is that when he got the opportunity, he did what he could with it.
Gonzalez replaced starter Albert Pujols in left field in the fifth inning of the National League's 7-6 loss. He singled to right field in the seventh inning against Oakland's Mark Mulder in his only plate appearance, but was immediately erased when Rondell White grounded into a 6-3 double play.
Thus began and ended Gonzalez's fourth trip to the Midsummer Classic, including his third straight. Gonzalez now has six All-Star at-bats, and base hits in three of them. A .500 average isn't too bad, especially against pitchers like these.
"It was good," he said afterward. "It's always nice and exciting to be here for the All-Star Game. Unfortunately we came up on the short end, but it was still a lot of fun."
It was a strange year for the D-Backs at the All-Star Game, considering that their only representative was a batter. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson have been sidelined due to injuries, marking it the first time that either of the co-aces has missed the All-Star Game as a member of the Diamondbacks. That meant it was up to Gonzalez to carry the flag at U.S. Cellular Field, and he did it admirably.
Still, the man sometimes referred to as the "nicest guy in baseball" wasn't all smiles in the clubhouse on Tuesday night. Sure, he had fun. Sure, he got a base hit. But to Gonzalez, winning is the main thing. And his team didn't win the game.
"It's always exciting when you're able to come in and get a hit in an All-Star Game," he said. "But I'd rather trade it in for the win right now."
That's partly from pure competitiveness -- the guy doesn't like to lose. But there's also the fact that Gonzalez's Diamondbacks have a shot to go back to the postseason once again. And if they get there, they can certainly make some noise. But unlike in 2001, Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 of the World Series wouldn't be at Bank One Ballpark this time around.
That year, Gonzalez saw -- and played in -- one of the better World Series in memory. This year, he was a part of one of the more exciting All-Star Games in quite some time. The contest featured a couple of lead changes, a dramatic eighth-inning homer and an all-around high level of play.
And Gonzo knew it.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "It was see-saw both ways. A lot of excitement, some home runs, clutch hitting. It started out like it was gonna be a 1-0 game, and then (Todd) Helton got the homer. So it was back and forth. The fans saw a good, entertaining game tonight."
Now he goes back to his regular teammates as they take aim at the Giants in the National League West. And if there's any consolation, it's this: Schilling just returned from his stint on the DL and Johnson will soon be returning to action.
That means that this nice guy will probably be smiling quite a bit more in the second half.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.