Corey Hart is not expected to be healthy until late May. Mat Gamel just underwent his second major knee surgery in two years. So the Brewers have been scrambling for a first baseman and are considering all sorts of different options.
One of those options is Alex Gonzalez, who has never appeared at a position other than shortstop in his 14-year major league career but was asked to take some reps at first base this spring and has impressed the Brewers’ decision-makers so far.
“You either have good instincts or you don’t,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Saturday evening. “Alex has really good instincts. … So, those guys are able to pick up those new positions faster than the guy who may have plenty of tools but doesn’t have the instincts to play them.”
Gonzalez has hit just .243/.277/.383 over his last 682 major league plate appearances, but the 36-year-old boasts a bit of power and the Brewers seem to think his defense at first will be more than adequate.
Gonzalez is 4-for-11 with one home run and three RBI through five Cactus League games.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.