Alberto Gonzalez started 71 games for the Nationals last season and hit just .265/.299/.351 in 316 total plate appearances, so this year they moved him into more of a bench role and he hit even worse, batting .247/.277/.301 in 198 plate appearances.
Normally a 27-year-old with a career OPS of .623 and back-to-back terrible seasons would be happy with whatever role he can get in the big leagues, but Gonzalez made it very clear during a recent interview in Venezuela that he’s unhappy being a utility man for the Nationals.
Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com did some translating and came up with this excerpt from the interview:
Utility is not going to be me. I want to be is entitled to second base or shortstop, but they are things that one should take it easy. I am young, yet I have time, I have a career ahead and I should not despair. Simply, if they do not give me these positions, you have to accept and expect what they will do me for next year. I come to think of moving to another team, but the Nationals do not want change because for them I’m a good player because I can take any position for my defense. I hope it’s what God wants, whether in Washington or any other.
I don’t want to be too critical of Gonzalez here, in part because I’m sure what he said loses plenty in translation, but Goessling also writes that he “heard a few rumblings earlier this season about Gonzalez chafing at a lack of playing time.” When you can’t crack the starting lineup on a last-place team and have one of the worst career OPS totals among all active players … well, the last thing you ought to be doing is complaining about your role.
Last we heard from Shelby Miller, the Diamondbacks’ right-hander was contemplating Tommy John surgery for a partial UCL tear in his right elbow. Now, he appears to have decided to go through with the procedure.
Miller decided to skip Tommy John alternatives like plasma-rich platelet injections or stem cell treatment, which have been used to varying degrees of success by other major league pitchers with similar injuries. The surgery will set him back an estimated 12-18 months, FanRag Sports’ Tommy Stokke reports, which puts Miller’s estimated return date somewhere in 2018 if all goes well.
The 26-year-old starter was off to a rocky start this season, posting a 2-2 record and 4.09 ERA through 22 innings and striking out just 20 of 99 batters faced. This was his sophomore campaign in Arizona after muddling through the 2016 season with a 3-12 record, 6.15 ERA and 0.5 fWAR over 101 innings with the club.
Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.
While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.
Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.