Colas comes out swinging; 'Full go' for healthy Gonzalez

February 27th, 2023

TEMPE, Ariz. -- stood out as one of the few highlights from a 7-0 White Sox loss to the Angels on Sunday afternoon, dropping Pedro Grifol’s team to 0-2 in Cactus League action.

The left-handed hitting rookie, Chicago's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline and a candidate for the starting job in right field, picked up two singles going the opposite way in three at-bats, hitting from the second spot of the lineup.

“Of course, it helps,” said Colas through interpreter Billy Russo. “I did my part to help the team, even though we came up short today.

“Yes, I feel comfortable out there. Second day in a row, all the nervousness I could feel yesterday was gone today.”

Colas’ offseason work was geared toward being more of a hitter and less of just a slugger.

“That’s part of my goal,” Colas said. “Try to hit to the opposite field and don’t pull the ball as much as I used to. Seeing those results today were good.”

Offseason work setting up a healthy Gonzalez
Infielder might have been as excited as anyone to see Grifol named as White Sox manager.

Gonzalez already had knowledge of Grifol dating back to offseason work on his offense with Mike Tosar in Miami. When Grifol was hired, Tosar joined the White Sox staff as Major League field coordinator.

Gonzalez also got to know third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez and hitting coach José Castro, who stopped by regular offseason hitting sessions run by Tosar and featuring Gonzalez and Colas.

“I was hitting five days per week. Me and Colas for an hour and half, two hours,” Gonzalez told during a recent interview. “We weren’t really rushing. Talking about approaches, plans, what are we going to do on this guy, that guy. Great work.

“Honestly, I couldn’t be in a better spot. The whole staff is amazing. Everybody wants to win. And everyone is on the same page, which is amazing. I’m extremely excited.”

This interview with Gonzalez took place one day before the White Sox brought back Elvis Andrus on a one-year, $3 million deal, with Andrus moving to second base after 14 seasons playing shortstop. So, fortunes could be slightly better for Gonzalez, who was knocked from the inside track to break camp as the team’s second baseman.

But the 26-year-old views the Andrus signing as a positive, for both the team and himself. He raved about Andrus as a teammate in ’22, adding that he even asked Andrus for a signed bat at the end of the season not knowing if they would play together again. He’s also ready to play anywhere on the field, having already covered every spot but center field, catcher and first base, with general manager Rick Hahn referring to him with “Ben Zobrist”-level playing possibilities.

Andrus’ return came as a surprise to Gonzalez. And any acquisition rumor this offseason or fans’ push for a veteran second baseman via Twitter also went unnoticed by Gonzalez, who does very little on social media.

It’s his father, Gus, who keeps Gonzalez updated in that area.

“Gus will let me know,” said Gonzalez with a laugh. “I tell him I don’t want to hear that stuff. You just gotta work. Put your head down and work hard and be the best player every day.

“These fans, it's been tough, especially last year. I understand. They want to win. They want to get the big names. They want to do everything. I’m very confident in my ability to be an everyday guy and contribute to winning a World Series.”

That confidence comes from Gonzalez’s natural ability, which catcher Yasmani Grandal has witnessed as a teammate and witnessed on a few occasions when joining the offseason workouts, having praise for the right-handed hitter. But Gonzalez also is healthy for Spring Training this season, and that's key.

His tonsils caused problems from Spring Training throughout the early part of the ’22 season before they were surgically removed. The only benefit of the procedure was being able to crush a ton of ice cream -- and discover his favorite flavor.

“Half-baked Ben and Jerry’s,” Gonzalez said. “The cookie dough and brownie in there, it’s awesome.

“No, it was terrible," he admitted of his tonsil issues. "I ended up losing 30 pounds. I gained five or six pounds after the recovery and all that when I got back here to Arizona to rehab. I didn’t feel strong at all. This year I’m in full health, full go and ready to go to show what I can do.”