Gonzalez made his Cubs debut, starting in right field and batting fifth, and he finished 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored, but it was his catch in right field that certified his introduction. With the bases loaded in the seventh, Gonzalez sprinted to the warning track on a fly ball from Jonathan Lucroy and snared the ball while falling to the ground, saving a certain bases-clearing knock.
“It was better than I expected. But not about my performance,” Gonzalez said. “Just being able to wear this uniform and being on the Cubs' side, it’s great man. The energy that these fans bring every day is tremendous. I’m looking forward to more days like this.”
“How about that new guy?” starter Jon Lester said with a chuckle after picking up his fourth win. “Glad to see him on our side, I know that. He’s been a Cub killer for a long time, and when that ball went up, I thought there was no chance he’d catch that ball. He changes that whole game.”
Gonzalez slashed .210/.282/.276 with two homers and seven RBIs across 30 games for the Indians before Cleveland released him May 26. The Cubs signed Gonzalez on Saturday with hopes that he can contribute while Ben Zobrist remains on the restricted list and Ian Happ continues to struggle at Triple-A.
“I just told him to go out there and don’t worry about making mistakes. Just go out and be himself, just like I tell everybody else,” manager Joe Maddon said before Monday’s game. “Hopefully he’ll create a little bit of a buzz within the group.”
The Cubs had averaged three runs per game over the last seven days. The addition of Gonzalez to the mix gives them another experienced left-handed power hitter who is capable of providing a professional at-bat off the bench or spelling Albert Almora Jr., Jason Heyward or Kyle Schwarber in a spot start.
“I’ll just go based on matchups,” Maddon said.
Utility man Jim Adduci was designated for assignment to make room for Gonzalez on the 25-man roster. The team now has seven days to trade, release or outright him to Triple-A if he clears waivers.
Strop to be activated this week
Pedro Strop's long road back from a Grade 2 hamstring strain is coming to an end. The veteran closer is with the team and is expected to be activated from the injured list within the next two days.
Strop’s return will be a boost for a bullpen that has struggled at times since he went on the IL May 7. The Cubs’ closer made three scoreless appearances during his rehab stint with Iowa.
“He’s in town. We just have to make the next move. The boys are locked down with the Draft situation, so I’ve been getting little pieces of information,” Maddon said. “If it’s not tomorrow, it’d be [Wednesday] for sure.”
Strop is 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA and is 4-for-6 in save opportunities over 12 appearances this season.