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Gonzalez sidelined for season

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Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
May 8, 2012
— In desperate need of some good news Monday, the Milwaukee Brewers instead had their worst fears confirmed.

Shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who was injured while sliding into second base Saturday in San Francisco, is lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.


An MRI confirmed the injury, and surgery will be scheduled with team physician William Raasch.


Gonzalez is the third Brewers player to be lost for the season in less than three weeks’ time. Pitcher Chris Narveson is out after undergoing surgery on his left rotator cuff and labrum, and first baseman Mat Gamel is in the same boat as Gonzalez, also needing surgery on his torn right ACL.


Gonzalez, Gamel and Carlos Gomez (hamstring) all were injured on the western portion of the Brewers’ just-completed road trip. And while Gomez’s isn’t considered serious, there’s no doubt the team was still a little shellshocked as it opened a three-game series at Miller Park against the Cincinnati Reds.


“Certainly not what I’d like it to be. My morale’s probably not what I’d like it to be,” manager Ron Roenicke said when asked about the mood in the clubhouse. “The 15-day DLs, those aren’t hard. They happen so much in baseball. The season-ending ones really hurt.


“But you try to replace them and move on.”


Shortstop, as it turned out, was the position at which the Brewers could least afford a major injury. The team’s minor-league system is bereft of talent there at the higher levels, and the position is at a premium at the major-league level.


Making the situation even tougher is the 35-year-old Gonzalez was everything the Brewers were hoping he’d be when they signed him to a free-agent deal in the off-season.


Defensively he was a huge upgrade at shortstop, and he was providing both power and run production in the bottom third of the lineup with a .259 batting average, four home runs and 15 runs batted in.


“When Alex went down, everybody was bummed—no doubt about it,” Roenicke said. “You get down for that period, but these guys understand what it takes. They understand injuries are a part of it, and they bounce back pretty quick.”


Cesar Izturis becomes the Milwaukee Brewers’ starting shortstop, with Edwin Maysonet the backup.


“I like ‘Izzy.’ I like what he’s been doing in the couple days that Alex has been out,” Roenicke said. “He’s a veteran who’s played every day before. We need to spell him because I obviously don’t want to lose him, so we’ll get Maysonet in there for him to give him a break.


“But I like Izzy there. Defensively, he’s really good. He’ll be all right.”


Izturis, 32, spent the previous three seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. He’s played for six major-league teams since 2001.


Like Gonzalez, Izturis’ strength is defense. He won a Gold Glove with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004, and it was his ability to play shortstop, second and third base that led to the Brewers signing him to a minor-league contract in the off-season.


But at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Izturis is far from being the physical presence that Gonzalez was at the position.


Izturis is a switch hitter but one with virtually no power. That certainly won’t help a Brewers offense that has been spotty at best and will force some shuffling in the bottom third of the lineup.


Izturis entered Monday hitting .208 with one RBI.


“It’s tough, but it’s part of the game,” Izturis said when asked about becoming a starter at Gonzalez’s expense. “Now my job is to go out there and try to help the team win anyhow (I can). We’ll see what happens.”


Maysonet, 30, has just 46 games of major-league experience, all with the Houston Astros in 2008 and 2009. He hit .276 with one homer and seven RBI in 76 at-bats.


“Really, the versatility,” Roenicke said of Maysonet, who also played some outfield in spring training.


“He’s got a very good arm, good hands, very smooth fielder. In spring training both years I saw pretty good at-bats from him. So I’m OK with him.”


Gonzalez’s injury might also have an effect on his long-term future with the Brewers, because his contract included a vesting option that guaranteed him a $4 million salary for 2013 if he reached 525 plate appearances.


Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.



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