Marwin Gonzalez memorizes his position one day at a time.
Gonzalez, the Astros’ versatile veteran, needs to consult a schedule given to him by manager A.J. Hinch and taped to his locker to be sure where he’s playing the following day.
“In spring training he gave me my own schedule,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez played 47 games in left field last season, 38 at shortstop, 31 at first, 22 at second, 19 at third and two in right field. On a team that features AL MVP Jose Altuve, World Series MVP George Springer and Carlos Correa, Gonzalez led the World Series champions with 90 RBIs. He hit .303 with 138 hits, 67 runs and 23 homers, all career bests.
The 28-year-old Gonzalez hit a tying ninth-inning homer off Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in Game 2 of the World Series, helping Houston to a 7-6, 11-inning win.
“He’s one of the most valuable players on our team because of what he can offer and how little of a step back there is when you sit some of the bigger names,” Hinch said.
Gonzalez started at third base in Tuesday’s 10-5 split-squad win over Washington. He hit his first home run of spring training in the first inning. He also walked and doubled.
Keep perspective on Ichiro
Sentiment and nostalgia brought back Ken Griffey Jr. to Seattle for a final stand, and it will be sentiment and nostalgia that soon brings back Ichiro Suzuki, provided he passes his physical as expected, writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times.
The Mariners suddenly need reinforcements in the outfield after Ben Gamel’s oblique strain was diagnosed Monday. But it’s hard to make a strong baseball argument that Ichiro is the one to fill the need. He is, after all, 44 years old.
You get a guy who can still handle himself in the outfield, but is no longer a Gold Glover with a rifle arm. And you get a guy from whom young players can soak up the accumulated knowledge from a Hall of Fame career.
But you don’t get an offensive threat of any sort. Ichiro was almost primarily a pinch-hitter last year with the Miami Marlins, getting 100 of his 196 at-bats in that role, but in the American League those opportunities won’t be nearly as plentiful. Ichiro had just nine extra-base hits.
Around the horn
The Diamondbacks are bringing back the bullpen cart to shuttle relief pitchers to the mound. The last known use of a motorized vehicle in Major League Baseball was in 1995, when the Milwaukee Brewers used a motorcycle with a sidecar.
... Seth Romero, a top pitching prospect selected by Washington in last year’s amateur draft, was sent home from spring training for violating curfew.
... Outfielder Jon Jay agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract with Kansas City, a deal that allows him to earn another $1.5 million in performance bonuses.