GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Erik Gonzalez's quest to make the Cleveland Indians' Opening Day roster appeared to hit a snag on Wednesday when the utility infielder left the team's split-squad matchup against the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe with an apparent ankle injury.
The extent of Gonzalez's injury, however, doesn't appear to be serious, as he has already been cleared to return to action. According to Indians manager Terry Francona, Gonzalez suffered a contusion and will only be held out of the team's Thursday game against the Los Angeles Dodgers -- in which he was originally scheduled to only be an extra player -- for precautionary reasons.
That's good news for the 26-year-old Gonzalez, whose time in the Indians organization could be nearing an end. Now out of minor league options, Gonzalez is believed to be battling with Giovanny Urshela for the utility infield spot on Cleveland's Opening Day roster.
Following multiple call-ups from Triple-A Columbus, Gonzalez appeared in 60 games with the Indians last season and hit .255 to go along with 4 home runs and 11 RBIs. Also used as a pinch-runner, the 6-foot-3 Dominican Republic native tallied 18 runs and stolen base for Cleveland in 2017.
Francona admitted on Thursday that the Indians will have a tough call on their hands, needing to find a balance between what a player is capable of and how he'll fit in with the team's needs. But while his batting average may not particularly matter when it comes to how he'll be judged, will now be able to fully showcase what he's capable of in what could be his final time in a Cleveland uniform.