By Jack Etkin
Carlos Gonzalez had played 1,367 regular season games before Monday and nine more in the postseason. But before Gonzalez set foot on Coors Field with the Chicago Cubs and played his first game there with a visiting team, he imagined what that would be like.
“This is definitely one of the greatest experiences that I’m going to have for my career,” Gonzalez said.
He wasn’t disappointed.
Gonzalez played his first game for the Colorado Rockies on June 5, 2009, and was a member of the Rockies for 10 seasons. He won a batting title with the Rockies, was a three-time All-Star, won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. He ranks second in franchise history in games played, (1,247), third in both hits (1,330) and runs (769) and fourth in both doubles (277) and home runs (227).
The Rockies were going to let Gonzalez go after the 2017 season but re-signed him as a free agent March 12, 2018, for what proved to be an encore season.
Gonzalez, 33, was a free agent after last season, not a good time for a player his age to be looking for work. It was deja vu for Gonzalez, who already knew what it was like to be a veteran pariah. Only this time, the Rockies weren't going to come calling.
Gonzalez was jobless until finally signing a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians on March 19. He made his Indians debut April 14 but was designated for assignment May 22 after hitting .210 with two homers and seven RBI in 30 games.
"After that, I was just waiting at home," Gonzalez said, "and see if there was going to be another chance. If not, I can always look back and say I was blessed with all the opportunities that I got."
The Cubs signed Gonzalez to a minor league contract June 1. Two days later, he made his Cubs debut in a make-up game against the Los Angeles Angels at Wrigley Field and began to make an impression.
“He’s the kind of guy that when you bring in during the season, the players got to know that it’s not just a lateral move,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “When you’re a going to a good team, the other players have to feel as though this guy can actually help. And that was the immediate reaction.”
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