Alex Gonzalez will probably be the Brewers’ starting first baseman on Opening Day

1 Comment

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.

Kershaw-Sale anything but a pitcher’s duel

Elsa/Getty Images
1 Comment

World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.

And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.

Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.

Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.