Romy's hot hitting thanks to lighthearted approach

Second baseman goes 2-for-4 against Angels, homers in third straight game

May 31st, 2023

CHICAGO -- There has been an in-season attitude change implemented by White Sox second baseman , manifesting itself in dynamic on-field play as exhibited during the 7-3 victory over the Angels Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

As Chicago manager Pedro Grifol described it postgame Tuesday, Gonzalez basically said, “The hell with it. I'm going to have some fun, and I'm going to play this game the way I know how to play it and the way I've always played it.”

Gonzalez laughed and agreed with the assessment.

“One hundred percent accurate, yeah,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t say exactly those words. But along those lines for sure.”

“He's having fun. I just think he's relaxed, he's playing the game loose, the way the game needs to be played,” said Grifol of Gonzalez. “When you let the pressures of this game take away the joy of it, you're done. You're done in anything you do in the game.”

During Tuesday’s series-evening victory, Gonzalez doubled, homered, swiped third base, scored on an ensuing error and made a couple of slick defensive plays. He returned from the injured list on May 19 with an 0-for-2 showing and one RBI at home against the Royals after being sidelined since May 1 with right shoulder inflammation.

In 10 games following his return, Gonzalez is 10-for-29 with three doubles, three home runs, one triple, 10 RBIs and six runs scored. Those three home runs have come in each of the past three games, including a sixth-inning blast Tuesday.

“Oh, it’s great,” Gonzalez said. “I think [Jake] Burger had three [straight earlier in the month], so we were messing around a little bit to see if I can get the fourth tomorrow. But it’s definitely been awesome.”

“He keeps hitting home runs, he's going to find himself somewhere to play every day,” Grifol added.

That home run challenge drew a laugh from Gonzalez, who clearly had heard Grifol’s postgame comments before talking to the media.

“I don’t know how doable that is,” Gonzalez said. “But I’ll definitely try.”

The double Gonzalez hit off Tyler Anderson (2-1) drove home Andrew Vaughn and contributed to a five-run fourth, erasing a 3-1 deficit. The uprising helped make a winner of (4-4), who allowed three runs -- including homers hit by Taylor Ward and Shohei Ohtani -- but struck out five and walked two over five innings.

Giolito pointed to the offense and not his mound work as a primary reason for the White Sox being the only American League Central team to win Tuesday, moving them to 23-34 and six games out of first.

“I didn’t pitch well enough to deserve a win next to my name,” Giolito said. “They just did their thing, and I was able to kind of grind through five innings.”

“Lucas threw a great game,” Gonzalez said. “The bullpen did an amazing job. Any time you can give the starting pitcher a ‘W’, it’s definitely nice.”

Kendall Graveman recorded the final four outs after Reynaldo López fanned four over two perfect innings and Aaron Bummer got two outs. Liam Hendriks, who made his inspirational return from his battle against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma Monday, warmed up in the ninth inning even after throwing 27 pitches one night earlier.

“He felt great, and I would not have hesitated to use him,” Grifol said. “I'm glad we didn't, because we have him for tomorrow, and I'm glad it ended up the way it ended up.”

Tuesday’s win was about the offense, with breaking an 0-for-17 funk with three hits, Burger tallying three knocks and Vaughn driving in three. Then there’s Gonzalez, who could go back to more of a super-utility role when Elvis Andrus returns from a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte this week.

With his new fun attitude in tow, brought about when he came back from injury rehab in Arizona, Gonzalez knows his success will continue even with an off-day or two.

“I was putting so much pressure on myself,” Gonzalez said. “I know what I’m capable of. I work extremely hard. I love this game. I love this team. I want to win.

“So I just said, ‘Screw it. Let’s go out there and have fun.’ At the end of the day, it is a game, and that added pressure is not going to help. … Just getting those at-bats every day, it’s huge. It’s vital. Any time you are in there and you can make a difference, it’s worthwhile."