Thursday, December 24, 2015

EDGAR GONZALEZ TO MANAGE MEXICO IN WBC QUALIFIER

Mexicali Aguilas manager Edgar Gonzalez has been named to lead Mexico's national team in an upcoming World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament.

Gonzalez led Mexicali to the Mexican Pacific League's first-half title and has the Aguilas well-positioned for a postseason run.  He won't have to leave town for the qualifier, which will be held in Mexicali between March 17 and 20 and include teams from Germany, Nicaragua and the Czech Republic along with Mexico.

The host nation will be the heavy favorites, with a passel of MLB pitchers like Yovani Gallardo, Roberto Osuna, Miguel Gonzalez and Joakim Soria likely to be added to Mexico's initial 50-man roster.  Whether big league teams allow those players to leave spring training to take part in the Mexicali games is another matter.  It's anything but automatic, although the MLB office is likely to employ persuasive tactics on franchises to support the WBC, former commissioner Bud Selig's brainchild that made its debut in 2006.

The 37-year-old Gonzalez was born in San Diego in 1978 and was selected by Tampa Bay in the 30th round of the 2000 draft while playing college ball for his hometown UCSD.  After nine seasons and five different organizations in the minors, Edgar made his MLB debut for San Diego on May 12, 2008 against the Cubs, singling off Carlos Zambrano in his first plate appearance in the seventh inning.  Gonzalez went on to play parts of 2008 and 2009 with the Padres, hitting .255 with 11 homers in 193 games before returning to the minors.  He spent time with Japan's Yomiuri Giants in 2010 and 2012, batting a combined .253 with 16 roundtrippers over 157 NPB contests.  Although he primarily played second base in San Diego and Tokyo, Edgar was equally at home playing third with much additional playing time at first, shortstop and the outfield before retiring in 2014.

Gonzalez played for Mexico in both the 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classics alongside brother Adrian, a Dodgers' All-Star first baseman, after the two spent time in 2008 and 2009 in the Padres infield to become the first siblings of Mexican descent to play major league ball on the same team.  They also played winter ball several times together with the MexPac's Mazatlan Venados prior to Edgar's retirement as a player.