The Washington Post

For Alberto Gonzalez, a hot spring and an uncertain future

Alberto Gonzalez smoked an RBI double off the left field wall in his only at-bat today, another statement for an overlooked player. Gonzalez (warning: spring training stats coming) has hit .365/.400/.404 this spring. He has often been citied by Manager Jim Riggleman as the Nationals’ best spring hitter. He plays excellent defense at second, short and third.

And still, it seems like Gonzalez may have a hard time becoming the Nationals’s utility infielder. As Riggleman pointed out the other day, the Nationals brought Alex Cora to the team for a reason, and his spring has not dissuaded them from keeping him on the team – Cora himself has a .439 on-base percentage in 36 at-bats. They can only logically keep one on the 25-man roster.

What to do, then, with Gonzalez? Early this spring, Riggleman said Gonzalez complained last year about a lack of playing time. Gonzalez pledged that wouldn’t be the case this year.

“I’m ready for everything, for utility,” Gonzalez said. “I’ll play everywhere, and I’m working every day. I want to be with this organization the whole year. They gave me the opportunity to play.”

The most likely solution could be the Nationals trading Gonzalez. Most any team would find use for him. He has a “so-so” comfort at first base, he said, where he has played a few times this spring, but his infield defense is mostly excellent – one scout pegged Gonzalez as the best defensive utility infielder in baseball. He will likely play in the majors this year, but it might be for another team.

>>> Jayson Werth’s impact can already be seen in the clubhouse. That’s not meant in the terrible-cliché way. Today, there was a red t-shirt laid over stool in front every Nationals player’s locker. On the front right breast, it read “Nats Baseball” on the back, in big block letters, it read, “Addicted to WINNING! Duh!” Those shirts were Werth’s idea, printed at his cost.

No, I do not have a picture. Yes, I am just trying to get Steinberg out to opening day.

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.


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