The Cubs are wasting no time getting newly-signed outfielder Carlos González acclimated. González, who signed a minor league contract with the team last Saturday, was called up before Monday afternoon’s game against the Angels. In his first game with the team, he’ll bat fifth and play right field.
“[Starting right away] means a lot,” González told reporters before the game. “Just getting that confidence right away from the organization and the manager. This is a great opportunity to continue to have success and I’m looking forward to working hard and playing hard for my teammates.
At 33, this is González’s 12th major league season. Signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2002, Gonzalez spent 4 years in their farm system before being included in a 2007 trade package that Arizona sent to Oakland in order to acquire Dan Haren. Only a year later he was traded again, this time to the Rockies in exchange for Matt Holiday.
It was in Colorado where he really found his stride, spending the next decade as a cornerstone of the Rockies’ outfield. Over a span of 1227 games, González hit .290/.349/.516 with 227 home runs for Colorado. After leaving the team in free agency following last season, González signed with the Cleveland Indians and appeared in 30 games for them. He struggled over that stretch, hitting .210/.282/.276 before being released in late May. Prior to being called up, Gonzalez had gone 2-for-8 with a solo homer in two games in Triple-A Iowa.
“It’s exciting. It’s a new chapter for my career,” he said. “This is a really good place to play baseball, and there’s a lot of energy so I’m really excited and looking forward to it.”
The sample size is small, but González has typically hit well at Wrigley over his career. Over 26 games (110 PAs), the lefty has slashed .245/.290/.553 with a .843 OPS and a 127 wRC+. He has 9 homers and two doubles as well.
“It’s just a good ballpark,” he said. “It can be a really good ballpark, or one of the toughest to hit in when the wind is blowing in. I’ve never considered myself a power hitter. I’ve always tried to be a good hitter, just hitting line drives. You go side-to-side, and the power will show up.”
There hasn’t been much carved out in terms of a defined role for González yet. Maddon, who had just met him for the first time this morning, maintained that the team wasn’t in much of a hurry to decide, instead making decisions based on each day’s matchups.
“Nice man,” Maddon said. “I know about his past - how good he’s been for several years. I’m eager to get him going - he’s still a young man.
“I just told him to go out there and not worry about making mistakes. Just be himself.”
NEWS AND NOTES
- González talked a bit about what it was like to beat the Cubs in the 2018 NL Wild Card Game. He noted that the Cubs, amidst a tough stretch, looked defeated at times throughout the game. “I noticed last year that there was something about the team that wasn’t the same,” he said. “We took advantage of that. I think it was a really good game. We ended up winning the game and I think a lot of that has to do with how it seemed like they were a little down because they struggled at the end of the year.”
- Pedro Strop is back in Chicago, and it sounds like it won’t be long before he returns. “He’s in town, and we just have to make the next move,” Maddon said. “The boys are locked down pretty heavily in that draft situation right now, so I’m getting little bits and pieces of information. If it’s not tomorrow, it’d be the next day for sure.”