From the Commercial Appeal
Redbirds' Gonzales raised to play ball
No doubt about offense, working to hone defense
By Jim Masilak
April 24, 2007
As an aspiring baseball player, Redbirds second baseman Edgar Gonzalez enjoyed the best of both worlds while splitting his childhood between San Diego and Tijuana.
Gonzalez and his brothers, Adrian and David, took advantage of their American and Mexican roots to play the game year-round on both sides of the border.
"When one season ended," Edgar said, "we'd go right into another one."
The Gonzalez boys grew up in a baseball-mad household headed by their father, David Sr., who once turned down an opportunity to play pro ball because his air-conditioning business was more lucrative.
"But (playing professionally) was his dream," Edgar said, "so we were born with baseball bats in our hands."
Not to mention a batting cage in their backyard, to which they often retired following endless games of Wiffleball.
"It was all baseball, all the time," said Edgar, who tripled and scored Monday night as the Redbirds beat Omaha, 7-1, before an announced crowd of 6,513 at AutoZone Park.
The family's hard work is paying off.
David Jr., the eldest of the Gonzalez brothers, showed promise until his career was cut short by shoulder injuries.
But Adrian, the baby of the bunch, was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2000 draft by the Florida Marlins and is now the starting first baseman for the hometown San Diego Padres.
Edgar, 28, played at the University of San Diego before being selected by Tampa Bay in the 30th round of the same draft.
A career .295 hitter in seven professional seasons, he signed a free-agent deal with the St. Louis Cardinals in December and was assigned to Memphis.
After going 1 for 3 to extend his hitting streak to seven games Monday night, Gonzalez is batting .283 with six RBI in 18 games for the Redbirds.
"He's done a great job for us. He's a very professional player," Redbirds manager Chris Maloney said. "He gives you a good at-bat every time up there and he's played solid defense for us. He's been good at turning double plays for us."
Gonzalez would no doubt appreciate more testimonials of that nature.
No one doubts Gonzalez's offensive capabilities. He hit .392 in 46 games last year for Triple-A Albuquerque.
It's Gonzalez's defensive shortcomings at second base that have been cited as the main reason he has yet to play a major-league game.
"That's been the talk on him, that he isn't good defensively," Maloney said. "But he's working hard and he's played good defense."
A shortstop in college, Edgar played third base in the minors before moving again, this time to second base, a year and a half ago.
"I've been moved from position to position. It's taken time to get used to it, but people think there must be something wrong," Gonzalez said. "I know I do need work, but I know I could play defense (in the big leagues) if I needed to."
Gonzalez worked closely with Cardinals third-base coach and fielding guru Jose Oquendo during spring training.
Gonzalez, who has two errors in 18 Pacific Coast League games after committing three in 16 Grapefruit League games with the Cardinals this spring, is adhering to the same program with the Redbirds (9-10).
"Oquendo helped me a lot," he said. "I really took in what he was saying. I've played good defense but I know there's a lot of work to be done."
The 6-0, 182-pound Gonzalez is far from hopeless in the field. He won a Gold Glove following the 2006 season while playing for Mazatlan of the Mexican Pacific League.
Now with his fifth organization in as many seasons after twice being chosen in the Rule 5 draft, Gonzalez hopes to prove he's advanced enough to merit a shot at playing in his little brother's league.