Comfortable in center or left, CarGo trusts Rox
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said Tuesday he doesn't mind the Rockies using Spring Training to determine whether he'll play center field or left field.
After trading center fielder Dexter Fowler to the Astros, the Rockies told Gonzalez, a three-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, that he'll play center. But the Rockies later acquired Drew Stubbs in a trade with the Indians, which opened the possibility of Stubbs playing center in a combination with Charlie Blackmon or Corey Dickerson. Brandon Barnes, who played center for the Astros last year and came in the Fowler trade, also is an option.
Manager Walt Weiss said Monday that the plan is still for Gonzalez to play center, but he reserved his right to change his mind. Weiss and Gonzalez agree that whatever decision is made will be final. Gonzalez believes switching back and forth during the season creates an injury risk.
"We have options, and it's smart for the manager to know he can count on his players," Gonzalez said. "I'm ready to play center field or left field, wherever they need me. When they traded Dexter to Houston, that was their best option. But now we have more depth, plus Drew Stubbs, who is a pure center fielder. It's good.
"I know I'm going to be playing every day. I don't know if I'm going to play center field or left field, but if I'm healthy, I'm going to have the opportunity to help the club."
Gonzalez was challenging for a batting title and leading the National League in home runs before suffering a torn ligament in his right middle finger in July. The injury curtailed his hitting, but he still managed to win the Gold Glove Award.
If he moves to center, Gonzalez could be in competition for this year's Gold Glove Award with the incumbent, the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen.
"Every year is a new challenge, and the word 'challenge' to me is a motivation," Gonzalez said. "It doesn't matter to me what I did the year before -- I want to do better the next year. I have three beautiful gloves at my house and I want to continue that. It doesn't matter where I play, I'm going to do my best. But that's not my No. 1 goal. It's to help this team win a championship. When you have that in your mind, you're going to force yourself to be the best."
Gonzalez said the finger has healed and he'll try to mitigate further injuries by holding the bat about a half inch higher to reposition his pinky, and he'll use less tape and pine tar. He also has gained back all the weight he lost after an offseason emergency appendectomy.