Gonzalez makes the most of his first game; Cubs draft pitcher
The Chicago Cubs wasted no time bringing veteran Carlos Gonzalez up from Class AAA and getting him into the starting lineup.
Gonzalez had his contracted selected from Iowa as the Cubs designated outfielder Jim Adduci for assignment. The Cubs signed Gonzalez to a minor league deal last week after he was let go by the Cleveland Indians.
He made a spectacular running catch in the seventh inning of Monday's 8-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. He also singled and walked.
"This is a good opportunity for me," he said before the game. "This time of year is when hitters normally get really hot. I hope that's the case for me."
The 33-year-old Gonzalez began his big-league career with Oakland in 2008 but starred with the Colorado Rockies from 2009-18. He hit only .210 in 30 games this year with Cleveland, but he went into Monday with a lifetime line of .285/.343/.502 with 233 home runs.
Gonzalez is a three-time all-star and a three-time Gold Glove winner. He won the batting title in 2010.
"I feel strong; physically, I feel good," he said. "The past two years the numbers have not been the same as everybody was used to -- the .300-plus, the 30-plus (home runs). That just shows baseball is a lot of ups and downs.
"But I'm positive there is a lot of baseball ahead of me. That's where I want to be. I want to be able to help a club win ballgames, and this is a good opportunity for me."
Gonzalez got into last year's wild-card victory by the Rockies over the Cubs at Wrigley Field and said he saw something he didn't see with the 2016 world-champion Cubs.
"I noticed there was something about the team that I hadn't seen in the past," he said. "We (the Rockies) took advantage of that. It was a really good game. We went in extras (13 innings) and we end up winning the game, and I think a lot of that is because they seemed like they were a little down because of their struggles at the end of the year.
"As an opponent, you always notice that. We knew they were slumping, we knew they were limping. They finished (by) losing the division at the end of the year. It just seemed like they were down. You never want to show that to an opponent. That's exactly what we did; we took advantage of it."
It just so happens Gonzalez will face the Rockies this week at Wrigley Field and next week at Coors Field.
Surprise draft pick?
The Cubs selected right-handed fastball pitcher Ryan Jensen out of Fresno State with the 27th overall pick in the first round of Monday's amateur draft.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Jensen was ranked 99th overall by mlb.com and 109th by Baseball America. Jason McLeod, the Cubs' scouting and player-development chief, talked of Jensen's athleticism, physicality and velocity as traits the Cubs valued, despite the outside rankings.
"We knew going into the selection we were going to make that it was going to be a surprise, at least to the draft experts -- quote, unquote experts if you will," McLeod said. "We saw this guy wire this year. We knew that someone would say, 'Wow, this is where he was ranked.' The funny thing is after they said, that, two or three picks behind us, Houston a took a catcher that was ranked 170th or something by Baseball America. Pretty smart front office there. We understand it, but at the same time, we trust in our process."
Jensen, 21, went 12-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 16 games this year, striking out 107 and walking 27 in 100 innings.
Soon for Strop:
Relief pitcher Pedro Strop is back in town after making a rehab stint at Iowa. He has been on the injured list since May 7 with a left-hamstring strain. The Cubs have not yet activated him but that's likely to come later this week.
Strop is the backup closer to Brandon Morrow, who has not pitched since before last year's all-star break and who remains on the IL after last fall's elbow cleanup.