Elder Gonzalez moving into spotlight

Elder Gonzalez moving into spotlight

PEORIA, Ariz. -- You certainly don't have to ask twice to get Adrian Gonzalez to openly champion the cause for his older brother Edgar, who is attempting to make the team as a utility man.

No brotherly stumping has been needed as Edgar Gonzalez's bat and glove have made him not only one of the bigger surprises in Padres Spring Training camp but, perhaps, a leading candidate to win a spot on the bench.

"He's having a good spring," Adrian Gonzalez said Friday of his brother, who is a non-roster invitee. "He can play multiple positions and he can swing the bat, too. He's got a lot to offer the team."

It's Gonzalez's versatility -- he already has played everywhere in the infield this spring and can also play the outfield in a pinch -- as much as his bat that's made an impression on the Padres thus far.

Heading into Friday's game against the Diamondbacks, the 29-year-old was hitting at a .636 clip with two doubles, a triple, one home run and six RBIs in his first 11 at-bats this spring. Better still, he's played errorless defense everywhere the team has put him.

"Part of his game is his ability to move around the field," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "He's told me he has played everywhere. He feels comfortable around the diamond and there's no doubt he's played well. He's played well in the field, and offensively, he's been swinging the bat great."

And while his early success has no doubt helped his cause, making the team won't be an easy proposition given the other candidates in camp who also count versatility as an ally, like Craig Stansberry, Luis Rodriguez, Oscar Robles and Callix Crabbe.

"The only thing I see is we have at least 10 guys who are more than capable and deserve to play on the team," Adrian Gonzalez said. "It's not going to be a case of who won the spot, because they all win it in a sense. It's who can help the team best and who can help the team most

"[Edgar] has a lot to offer, but so do a lot of guys here."

Gonzalez is the best hitter of the bunch of utility man candidates. He's a career .297 hitter who hit .308 last season with Triple-A Memphis, where he was assigned after being one of the last cuts in Spring Training by the St. Louis Cardinals.

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He played mostly second base and third base last season but appeared in three games in the outfield, the one position he's been working on becoming proficient at the most this spring. Gonzalez can also catch in a pinch, though he's never appeared in a professional game there.

"In my career, I've played everywhere and now I'm really glad I got a chance to do that. It's coming in handy now because I have experience there now," Edgar Gonzalez said.

"I think it's been good. I've shown I can do the job everywhere I've played. The biggest question, I think, was knowing if I could handle all positions. I think I've done what I'm supposed to do to this point."

And while Edgar Gonzalez has played winter ball with his brother before, this is the first time the two have gone through Spring Training together. The San Diego natives can be found eating together, taking batting practice at the same time. They seldom apart and that's just the way they like it.

"It's been awesome," Edgar Gonzalez said. "We go to dinner almost every day; our wives, they're always together, too. I followed him around here early because I wasn't sure what they expected. It's been really fun. He tells me all the ins and outs of the Padres."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.