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.
The Royals are a game and a half out of the crazy AL Wild Card race — six games back of the Indians in the division — so they don’t have a huge margin for error. They got some bad news last night, though, that could have a major impact on their playoff hopes: closer Kelvin Herrera experienced tightness in his right forearm in the ninth inning of last night’s win, forcing him out of the game.
Herrera walked the bases loaded, then went to a 2-0 count on the next batter before leaving the game. That last pitch was a fastball that clocked in at 91 m.p.h., which is NOT a typical Kelvin Herrera fastball. Herrera didn’t talk after the game but his teammate Sal Perez said that Herrera told him “I’m tight. I don’t feel my forearm.”
Reporters left the clubhouse before an official diagnosis or prognosis could be delivered, so expect an update some time today. If Herrera is out the closer duties could fall to Scott Alexander or Brandon Maurer.
Albert Pujols had a big night last night, driving in four runs as the Angels beat the Rangers 10-1. Three of those runs came on a three-run homer. That was the 610th home run of Pujols’ career, snapping a tie for eighth on the all-time list with Sammy Sosa. It also made him baseball’s all-time leader for home runs by a player born outside the U.S.
Pujols was aware of the accomplishment, of course, and noted how honored he was after the game:
”It’s pretty special. Obviously, all the great players from the Dominican Republic, Latin America, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, they’ve gone through the big leagues and to be able to accomplish something like this is very humbling.”
After Sosa, who is from the Dominican Republic, comes Rafael Palmeiro (569); Manny Ramirez (555); David Ortiz (541); Carlos Delgado (473); Jose Canseco (462); Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera (459).