The Detroit Tigers‘ 2014 Opening Day lineup had a few new faces, and the most unlikely hero out of all of them was the one they needed most to get a win over the Kansas City Royals in their season opener. A couple of weeks ago, Alex Gonzalez was struggling to get playing time with the Baltimore Orioles. Now he is the everyday shortstop for the Tigers with a walk-off hit under his belt after his first game with the team.
Gonzalez was brought in to replace Jose Iglesias after they learned he might miss the entire season, and no one expected him to bring much to the table with his bat. He is a career .246 hitter who has always been more of a defensive asset than an offensive one. Now that the pieces are in place, it appears the Tigers might actually be getting an offensive upgrade over Iglesias in Gonzalez and one who can field his position with veteran savvy.
On top of the walk-off hit, Gonzalez had a game-tying RBI-triple in the seventh inning and a couple of key defensive plays. He has come a long way considering he didn’t know if he would even get a chance to play consistently in 2014. After his Opening Day performance, the naysayers who doubted he would be enough to replace Iglesias now have to reconsider.
Gonzalez looks like he could be just the right guy for the job, which has to make first-year manager Brad Ausmus feel a lot more confident about his lineup. He should be able to fit in with the other Venezuelan players such as Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and new coach Omar Vizquel. This could the best chance he has had to succeed in a while and it appears he is ready to make the most of it.