Gonzalez, signed by the Astros on a Minor League deal in August after he was designated for assignment by the Red Sox, is vying for a spot on Houston’s playoff roster -- a spot which could be between Gonzalez and outfielder Jose Siri.
“The main goal I’m focused on right now is trying to continue to help the team the most that I can, trying to find my swing,” Gonzalez said. “I just want to get better and see what happens in the next few weeks.”
What could Gonzalez bring to the Astros in October? Versatility and experience. He can play four infield spots, as well as left field, and is a switch-hitter to boot, though he has struggled as left-handed hitter this year. His grand slam on Monday was a Statcast-projected 418-foot shot from the left side of the plate, which is a positive development for him.
“I was a little desperate chasing the first few at-bats, a little late,” he said. “I was just swinging out of the zone, and you expand the zone when you are late. That’s one of the main things I’m working on, to be on time and try to see the ball better.”
Gonzalez entered Tuesday hitting .176 as a lefty and .267 as a righty. Since joining the Astros, he’s 4-for-21 with three homers and eight RBIs.
“He’s been working hard to try to get that stroke back, especially on the left side,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Plus, he’s a leader, especially with the Latin guys. When he got here, he stepped right in and is doing some of the same things he has done before that I wasn’t privy to, but I heard about.”
Gonzalez, who spent time during batting practice on Tuesday looking at video with hitting coach Alex Cintron, said it’s all about timing.
“We’ve been working on it every single day since I got here,” he said. “I’m still making adjustments, you know. It’s been a tough year. When stuff like that happens, you start to change a lot of things and you’re desperate to find your way, and you start messing with things that weren’t the problem. I’m still working on it every day. The main part is to be a little more on time and that way you see the ball better.”
There’s no doubt Gonzalez, who still lives in Houston and is close friends with Jose Altuve and others on the team, looks extremely comfortable in an Astros uniform. Stepping into Houston's clubhouse after nearly three years away, Gonzalez said it was like he never left.
Gonzalez hit perhaps the biggest home run in franchise history with his game-tying shot in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium. He thinks this year’s Astros team is capable of another deep postseason run. Whether he’s a part of it remains to be seen.
“The talent is there,” he said. “This is a special team. I see a lot of potential. I think this team can get all the way there and do something special.”