Being present at the start of camp was exciting for González, who has had three unique years in a row that have kept him from getting off the proverbial starting blocks at the same time as his teammates.
“In 2017, we had the World Baseball Classic [with Venezuela],” González said. “Sometimes you forget about how important it is that you show up to spring camp and do the things that everybody else is doing. … In ’18, I signed late with the Rockies. I only had about a week and a half or two to get ready, and I always felt like I was in rush mode, just getting ready, when everybody else is ahead of me. Obviously, last year with Cleveland, I completely missed the entire Spring Training. I [played] a couple of games in Triple-A and the next thing I know, I’m playing in regular-season games.
“I felt like I was catching up all the time. … I said to my agent, ‘If I ever want to play again, make sure that I get the job when everybody else is getting ready, so I can get ready with them.'”
The last time that González had a full Spring Training to prepare, in 2016, he was named a National League All-Star while with the Rockies, driving in 100 RBIs for the second time in his career. While Seattle may have tempered its expectations on whether to prepare for that González, it’s clear that the club believes he has a chance to compete for an outfield spot that has been opened up by injuries to Mitch Haniger, who will miss considerable time after undergoing a microdiscectomy.
The heyday of González’s playing days came in Colorado, where he was a three-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove Award winner and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner. But last season, he appeared in 45 games between the Indians and Cubs and compiled a .200/.289/.283 slash line that included 52 strikeouts in 166 plate appearances.
During camp, he will be in competition for a roster spot in the outfield alongside youngsters Kyle Lewis, Jake Fraley and Braden Bishop, among others. But his role as the knowledgeable veteran in the clubhouse is something that Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto apparently sought when negotiating to sign González.
“We talked about all the young guys in the clubhouse and how having a veteran presence like me, it can be really helpful,” González said.
After sporadic appearances last season, González is optimistic about the chance to suit up in late February and get to know some of his younger teammates. Having once paved the way with his bat in the heart of the Rockies' order, he prepares to acclimate to being a leader with his insight and acumen.
“It’s an important role for me. … I’m up for the challenge,” he said.
Anderson, Cowgill join Mariners on Minors deals
The club made the signing of right-hander Cody Anderson official on Monday. The 29-year-old has appeared in parts of three seasons with the Indians, amassing a 4.76 ERA over 39 appearances, including 26 starts. The 6-foot-4 California native, who averaged 94.4 mph on his fastball last season, is in camp on a Minor League deal with the chance to make the club out of Spring Training. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017 and has since been on the comeback trail.
In addition, the club announced on Monday that it signed 33-year-old outfielder Collin Cowgill, a veteran of six Major League seasons. Cowgill hasn’t appeared in the big leagues since playing nine games with Cleveland in 2016. He spent '19 with the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate, slashing .228/.330/.440 with 12 homers and 34 RBIs.
Time to get physical
Mariners position players descended upon Peoria on Monday to have their physicals taken ahead of Tuesday, when the club will hold its first full-squad workout. Cactus League play will open Saturday against the Padres, who also call the Peoria Sports Complex home.