When the Milwaukee Brewers placed Corey Hart on the 15-day disabled list someone had big shoes to fill. That someone is seasoned infielder Alex Gonzalez. Hart will be out for at least six weeks, and Gonzalez, in his fifteenth year is expected to provide solid play at first base. Considering that Gonzalez has played short-stop for his entire career—how well can he make the transition to first?
Gonzalez broke into Major League Baseball with the Florida Marlins. In 1999 Gonzalez became an All-Star. His .277 BA and 14 HR, with 59 RBI set the stage for his everyday play with the Marlins. He helped them win their second World Series in 2003. Gonzalez posted a .273 BA with 1 HR and 2 RBI as the Marlins beat the New York Yankees in six games.
But replacing Hart may be a tougher challenge. Hart had a .270 BA, .334 OBP, and a .507 SLG percentage with 30 HR and 83 RBI last year. Gonzalez’s best year was the All-Star year of 1999. Even then he didn’t have the SLG percentage, homeruns, or RBI stats to compare offensively to Hart. Gonzalez needs to have a huge six weeks to replace Hart.
As a short-stop Gonzalez is definitely athletic enough to play first, but it’s still a major position change. He should have an advantage with footwork and range, but grounders are different at first. He hasn’t looked comfortable there in the first two games.
The Brewers are glad Gonzalez is part of the team, but he may not be able to fill the void left by Hart’s bad knee.