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Nick Gonzales Tore Up Triple-A, Now Hoping to Stay Hot With Pirates



Nick Gonzales, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH — In a move that seemed long overdue, the Pittsburgh Pirates recalled infielder Nick Gonzales from Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday.

Gonzales was among the hottest hitters in the International League this season. At the time of his promotion, the Pirates’ 2020 first-round pick was the leader in doubles with 14, was second in batting average at .358 and seventh in slugging percentage at .608.

Given how the Pirates have struggled at the plate for much of the season, Gonzales could have easily received a chance sooner than when he got it. The 24-year-old didn’t let the delay frustrate him.

“Obviously, at the end of the day I just wanna play baseball and I’ll do it anywhere,” he said prior to Friday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. “I’m just excited to be here and excited for the opportunity.”

The Pirates fell 7-2 to the Cubs at PNC Park, but Gonzales was responsible for both runs scored.

In his first at-bat since he was recalled, Gonzales delivered a two-run single to left-center field while the bases were loaded. Gonzales’ swing gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead and served as the team’s only hit with runners in scoring position in 12 at-bats on the night.

“That was really nice for me,” Gonzales said. “Help the team as best I can and I tried my best to watch the ABs (leading up to his). Everybody had really good at-bats and was able to do my job.”

Though Gonzales went hitless over his final three at-bats in the game and struck out twice, he provided a pulse to an offense that has been flatlining for the better part of a month.

The Pirates are counting on Gonzales to do more of the same as they look to revive their offense.

“He’s been swinging the bat really well and talk about pushing your way to the big leagues, he’s pushed his way to the big leagues with what he’s done in Indianapolis,” manager Derek Shelton said pregame. “And hopefully it provides us a little bit of a spark offensively.”

This is the second year in the big leagues for Gonzales after he debut in 2023. Last year, Gonzales appeared in 35 games for the Pirates but hit just .209 with a .616 OPS while striking out in over 28% of his plate appearances.

Though it’s not the rookie season he would have wanted, there were lessons to be learned and adjustments to be made from experiencing the big leagues for the first time. With an offseason to figure things out, Gonzales feels he is in a much better spot.

“It’s always a little more challenging your first time in the big leagues and you’re trying to make adjustments here and there. That’s obviously difficult,” he said. “Being in the cage and being able to work on those adjustments without the competition aspect is easier.”

The adjustments Gonzales made seemed to pay off, at least in the minor leagues. The strikeout issues that have plagued the second baseman for much of his career have subsided. Prior to getting called back up, Gonzales strikeout rate was a much healthier 17.5%.

With the alterations he’s made combined with what he learned from last year, Gonzales is hoping a straightforward approach will do the trick.

“Just keep it simple,” he said. “Do what I need to do out there that was successful and make my little adjustments as I go.”

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Jesse Gonder

So how long will it take for the manager and coaches to ef this guy up?

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