Brewers urge Gonzalez to embrace utility role

Longtime shortstop Alex Gonzalez has told the Brewers he is willing to try first base this spring as the team seeks an early solution at that injury-riddled position, but did not exactly seem giddy about the proposition.

Manager Ron Roenicke said he understands if that is the case.

“Here is a guy that is a proven, plus defender at shortstop for a lot of years, and he was our guy last year,” Roenicke said. “Now he gets hurt and all of a sudden he’s not that guy anymore. That’s hard to take. He knows if he comes back healthy, why shouldn’t he be that guy again?”

The Brewers are instead committed to Jean Segura, who turns 23 next month. General manager Doug Melvin has wondered aloud whether Gonzalez could make a transition a’la former Rangers infielder Michael Young, who moved all over the infield later in his career.

Roenicke will sell Gonzalez on the positives of that transition.

“I don’t expect Alex to be happy about things that come up that I ask him to do,” Roenicke said. “I try to explain it, why we need him to do it, explain about what may happen with him in the rest of his career, whether he’s only wanting to play a couple more years or wanting to play five or more years.

“If he’s wanting to play a long time, then he needs to be a utility man that can play all positions.”

Other internal candidates to play first base include Bobby Crosby and Taylor Green, each of whom have played the position in the Majors. Catcher Martin Maldonado will play some first in the Cactus League, but is not considered a candidate to man the position full-time once the season begins because the Brewers need him behind the plate.

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