Astros honor Twins’ Gonzalez in return to Houston
HOUSTON — The Twins’ Jonathan Schoop got his reunion last weekend. The former Orioles second baseman, in his return to Baltimore, was treated with a tribute video and an ovation from fans, which he responded to with a tip of the cap.
This week, it’s Marwin Gonzalez’s turn. Gonzalez, who played for the Astros from 2012-18, was greeted warmly by the crowd in Houston on Monday night, April 22.
The Astros put together a pregame tribute video that lasted about three minutes with highlights from his time in Houston. Several players from both teams stopped what they were doing to watch. At the end, Gonzalez popped out of the third-base dugout to applause.
“It feels good,” Gonzalez said. “This place was the place that gave me the road to the big leagues.”
Gonzalez, who still keeps his residence in Houston, said he went straight home upon landing in Houston to spend the night with his family. He did see Jose Altuve, though, and borrowed the Astros second baseman’s car, which he took for a familiar drive to Minute Maid Park on Monday.
“I didn’t have to use a GPS,” he said. “Feels good.”
But things were a little more complicated when he got to the stadium and was trying to find the visitors’ clubhouse.
“I didn’t know how to get here,” Gonzalez said. “I got to the Diamond Club and I was going to go straight to the elevator. I didn’t know I had to go right.”
Once there, he had time to catch up with some of his old teammates.
“I love them. It feels good. We have been talking. We haven’t lost that,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve been talking pretty much every day, so it’s nothing new. I’m going to see their faces, though. I’m glad I got to see them and I’m going to be here three days.”
With with the Astros, Gonzalez established himself as a valuable, versatile player. He won a World Series ring in 2017, the best season of his career. Gonzalez slashed .303/.377/.530 with 23 home runs and 90 runs batted in that year and was a big piece of the Astros’ success.
He also hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in Game 2 of the World Series, a game which the Astros went on to win in extra innings.
Gonzalez, who signed a two-year deal with the Twins this spring, said he thought there was a good chance he would wind up back in Houston, though he doesn’t believe talks were ever close this offseason.
“It’s no big secret how free agency is right now. It’s kind of tough, but it wasn’t impossible,” he said. “I’m here and I’m grateful to be here, too. This is what I like to do. This is what I love. No matter where I play, I’m going to give 100 percent for the city.”
Moya takes next step in rehab
Gabriel Moya was moved from Double-A Pensacola to Triple-A Rochester on Monday as he took a step forward in his rehab.
Moya, who had been dealing with shoulder tendinitis, threw in just one spring training game. He pitched in two games while with Pensacola, going a total of 1 2/3 innings while walking two, giving up three hits and striking out four. Both appearances were scoreless.
“He’s throwing the ball fine. He’s looking good,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think we’re going to have to watch him throw a few times and see how he responds, because that’s really what it comes back to with guys that are coming back from any sort of arm ailment. You want to make sure that they’re going to be able to hold up once they do return.”
Fellow reliever Matt Magill is also at Triple-A Rochester on rehab.
Twins undecided on Wednesday starter
Jose Berrios and Justin Verlander were initially both lined up to pitch on Wednesday, settling up a battle of all-stars. But the rained-out game Friday in Baltimore has changed plans.
“We’re going to give it probably as much time to figure out where we stand pitching-wise,” Baldelli said. “We’re just going to have to take our time before we make a call on it.”
The Twins could call somebody up from Triple-A or throw a bullpen game.
“We’re not going to be able to make a call or even imply who we might think who might be the person, because there are several people that probably could make that appearance for us,” Baldelli said. “That’s if we even go with a typical starter who we’re going to ask to just pitch.”