Erik Gonzalez Calls It "The Most Important Opportunity Of My Life"

Pirates SS Candidate Brimming With Confidence

Eric Hagman
February 19, 2019 - 10:29 am

Eric Hagman 93.7 The Fan

Bradenton, FL (93.7 Fan) - MLB history is filled with players stuck behind a star player on one team only to find a regular spot--and success--elsewhere.  Pirates shortstop Erik Gonzalez is looking to add his name to that list.

Gonzalez saw limited playing time with the Cleveland Indians over the previous three seasons.  Originally a third baseman, Gonzalez also played shortstop, second base and first base, but was unable to crack the everyday lineup due to Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis.  His first real opportunity is now with the Pirates after the Indians traded him as part of a 5-player deal last November.

"When you make it to the big leagues, you want to play in the big leagues, you don't want to be on the bench," Gonzalez said.  "Right now, I feel like this is my opportunity for everybody to see my talent. I'm going to put all my talents on the field for that.  I feel like this is the most important opportunity of my life."

The 27-year-old Dominican will battle former first round pick Kevin Newman for the shortstop job. General manager Neal Huntington would prefer the Pirates settle on one as the everyday shortstop, but likes what each player brings.

"They're different types of players," Huntington said.  "With Gonzalez it's the athletic, dynamic defender with some bat.  Newman is solid and steady on both sides of the ball."

In 162 major league games, Gonzalez has a .263 average with 5 home runs and 16 doubles.  He believes it is his defense that will win him the job.

"I try to make every out for the pitcher," he said.  "I can tell tell you right now I'm going to put 100 percent in the field."

One thing Gonzalez doesn't have to worry about is feeling alone in spring training.  Former Indians teammates Melky Cabrera and Lonnie Chisenhall are at nearby lockers, and he's played winter ball with Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Pablo Reyes.

"You know I feel like a family right here," Gonzalez said. "I feel comfortable."