Now that it’s February 20th, the trade and signing rumors aren’t flowing as freely as they used to. Occasionally we have to go to great lengths to dig up mildly intriguing rumors. By great lengths I mean I had to bust out my high school Spanish textbook.
El Nuevo Dia is a Puerto Rican newspaper. Yesterday, Hiram Alberto Torraca had an exclusive interview with former MVP Juan Gonzalez. Gonzalez was last seen with the Indians, amassing a single at-bat before straining his hamstring. If you want to register and can read Spanish, you can view the article here. For the rest of you, allow me to do my best to give you the gist of it.
According to Gonzalez, the Cubs sent Carmelo Martinez to Puerto Rico to watch him swing the bat and run the bases. [Note – Martinez is the hitting coach for the Cubs’ rookie ball affiliate, as far as I can tell.] The Cubs have yet to make an offer to Gonzalez because they wanted to observe him first.
Gonzalez has been practicing daily and says that the Red Sox and White Sox have also shown interest in him. Juan Gone’s thoughts on playing in the National League for the first time in his career:
"If I have to go the National League, I will do it. With that there is no problem. I am in the best condition of my life."
According to Gonzalez, Indians GM Mark Shapiro had promised a minor league invite for 2006 but didn’t keep his word. On the subject of money, Gonzalez had this to say:
"At this time, money does not matter to me. What I want is to play and to achieve some goals. If no contract is offered I will be tranquil and happy because I arrived at where wanted and I achieved many things."
It’s anticipated that Gonzalez will see some time in the World Baseball Classic, although he has yet to be added officially to Puerto Rico’s 30 man roster.
Gonzalez was last relevant in baseball in 2003, when he hit .294/.329/.572 for the Rangers in 327 ABs. It seems that teams continue to be tantalized by Gonzalez’s power even as he enters his age 36 season with a recent record of poor health. Gonzalez has mashed lefties throughout his career, and would make an intriguing platoon partner for Jacque Jones to say the least.