Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez is making it hard on the Texas Rangers this spring.
The club would love nothing more than to start him in the minors this year after he was named the Rangers' minor league pitcher of the year in 2014 while splitting time between High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco. It would do two things: Allow him to get more minor-league innings and allow the Rangers to extend his clock on service time and hitting arbitration in a few years.
But Gonzalez is pitching so well that he might force his way into the Rangers' Opening Day rotation as the club's No. 5 starter after No. 1 Yu Darvish was forced out for the season with Tommy John surgery. That trend continued on Monday night as Gonzalez took the mound for a five-inning start against the Cincinnati Reds and pitched really well against a pretty solid lineup.
Gonzalez allowed two runs on four hits, striking out six, over his five innings. He fanned former NL MVP Joey Votto twice. It was a really solid night for the 23-year-old righty, and it might have been enough to put him in the lead for that open No. 5 starter role.