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Gonzalez giving his all to make Indians' roster

Utility man not letting bruised ankle slow him down
MLB.com @JesseSanchezMLB

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Erik Gonzalez looked down at his right foot, saw that it was pointing in an unusual direction, and the worst possible thought crossed his mind.

The Indians' utility infielder had just raced to second base on a wild pitch against the Angels and slid awkwardly in the bag. He immediately felt a sharp pain in his leg.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Erik Gonzalez looked down at his right foot, saw that it was pointing in an unusual direction, and the worst possible thought crossed his mind.

The Indians' utility infielder had just raced to second base on a wild pitch against the Angels and slid awkwardly in the bag. He immediately felt a sharp pain in his leg.

"I'm thinking, 'Oh no, it's my knee,'" Gonzalez said in Spanish. "I was really scared, but then I got up and it didn't hurt too badly. My leg is still a little sore today, but I'm fine."

Officially, Gonzalez was diagnosed with an ankle contusion Wednesday. Unofficially, it's not a big deal, and it's not going to keep him off the field for what is an important spring for him.

Video: CLE@LAA: Gonzalez slides awkwardly, exits with injury

Gonzalez, who is out of options, and Giovanny Urshela, who also is out of options, are vying for a spot on the Indians' 25-man roster as the utility infielder. Either player would have to pass through waivers to be sent to the Minor Leagues.

"I don't look at it as a competition between me and anyone," Gonzalez said. "Every person just has to do their own work, and the team decides what they want to do. I know I have to take advantage of my opportunities when I get it, and that's what I'm going to do."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

So far this spring, Gonzalez has three hits in six at-bats. He has driven in a run and walked twice. Urshela has four hits in eight at-bats, with two doubles and two RBIs.

Last season, Gonzalez hit .255/.272/.418 in 60 games with the Indians, while Urshela hit .224 with one home run, 15 RBIs and a .551 OPS in 67 games with the big league club.

"We know what Gonzie can do, and his batting average isn't going to matter, whether he makes the team or not," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We love to see guys do well, but it's going to be what complements our team the best. I think you can make mistakes by taking the guy that has the highest batting average. Sometimes, that's hard for players to understand, because they come in and they are competing and thinking, 'Man, I did so well,' but it has to fit your team."

Ultimately, injuries and how they impact the roster will be part of the decision, but the club will also consider things like the players' bat speed, track record, running speed and adjustments at the plate. It's too early to tell exactly what the Indians will need out of the role with Opening Day still four weeks away.

Spring Training statistics are fun, but they won't play much of a factor.

"We have all seen a young kid have a great spring and hit his way onto a club. But it's in a utility role, and he has never done that before, and he sits for 10 days and has no chance of getting a hit," Francona said. "You look up a month later and he's in the Minors. You just have to be careful of that."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Erik Gonzalez