People sometimes say that writers have the best job: They have to watch games and then right about it and they get paid. Alberto Gonzalez can relate to that. The Texas Rangers utility infielder also watches games. Only he gets paid a lot more than the writers – and he doesn’t have to write about it afterwards, either.
Now, this is not a slight to Gonzalez. It is not his fault he hasn’t gotten into games lately. It’s what happens when you are the seventh (or eighth) infielder on a team. When Ian Kinsler or Adrian Beltre needs a break, they have Michael Young to step in and can put somebody else as the designated hitter. First base is a revolving door of Mike Napoli, Mitch Moreland and sometimes even Brandon Snyder. It means that the only place where Gonzalez is the first option off the bench is for Elvis Andrus, and he doesn’t take days off very often.
After a three-game stretch where he started every game when Adrian Beltre was hurt (May 14-16), Gonzalez has appeared in four games and started one (and went 3/4!). In that same stretch, the Rangers have played 30 games. Since May 30, Gonzalez has appeared in one game – June 14 against Arizona when he pinch hit for Kinsler… Who was the DH that day.
Gonzalez has appeared in 19 games this season. R.A Dickey, who pitches every 5 games has won 11 games.
Again, it’s not a knock on Gonzalez. The Rangers have been very healthy in the infield this season, and there are a lot of players who never come close to a Major League bench. I just think it’s funny. Gonzalez has appeared less than any player who made an Opening Day roster and never got sent down. Gonzalez has appeared less than Bobby Abreu, who was released and signed by another team. He has appeared less than Mike Trout and Bryce Harper who were called up a month into the season.
Gonzalez is the Rangers equivalent to the 12th man on a basketball bench. I’m sure he gets really excited every time a pitcher gets 2 strikes on a hitter and every time that a Rangers hitter comes around to score. I think we need an isolated cam on Gonzalez during games just to see what he’s up to.
Gonzalez does have a hard job. He’s not on the team for his bat, but it must be hard to go weeks without facing Major League pitching and then step in and be expected to produce. He is coming off of three straight seasons of 100+ games, so this is new for him, but I’m sure he doesn’t mind.