There was some thought that Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez would move to center field for the 2014 season, but manager Walt Weiss put that idea to rest today. According to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding, CarGo will stay in left while center field is up for grabs between Drew Stubbs, Corey Dickerson, and Brandon Barnes.
Gonzalez dealt with a sprained middle finger in the second half of the 2013 season, then underwent an emergency appendectomy last month. While he shouldn’t be described as injury-prone (a finger sprain and a bursting appendix are fluke injuries, after all), he has played in 135 or fewer games in each of the past three seasons. Gonzalez is expected to be put under less stress in an outfield corner rather than in center, particularly at Coors Field.
Gonzalez was quite productive last season when he was healthy and in the lineup. In 110 games, Gonzalez posted a .302/.367/.591 line and made the All-Star roster for the second consecutive year. The 28-year-old is entering the fourth year of a seven-year, $80 million contract with the Rockies.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.