Marvin Gonzalez’s career has become a versatile player.

TAMPA. Marvin Gonzalez struggled at first base. Coming out as a shortstop and playing second and even third base, he instinctively knew how to follow the ball and play the corners. But first base, standing and waiting most of the time, it wasn’t easy.

But he knew his career depended on it.

“The only chance I had for the game was to move,” Gonzalez said. “And that’s what I knew I would be in the lineup every day.”

That’s exactly what has him on the Yankee list right now. Not only can Gonzalez play every defensive position in the infield, he also plays well in the outfield. That he can also switch punches makes him a versatile player.

And that gives Aaron Boone a lot of off-the-bench flexibility, which is something the Races have used well against them over the past few years — and something they’ve been hoping to get from Tyler Wade over the past few years.

“On a four-man bench, you need that kind of flexibility,” Boon said. “It’s huge. Having that kind of flexibility to be able to give a guy a day off because you can slide (him there) or spin (designated hitter) and use him in different places, that’s huge.”

Gonzalez entered camp late after signing a minor league contract with the Yankees. After his worst year since his first two in the majors, he had to prove he could still contribute offensively for the Yankees to be added to the 40-man roster. He did it.

But so far, Boone has made very little use of Gonzalez. He has one out of five at-bats. Gonzalez was 7 for 20 with three home runs and nine RBIs in seven spring practice games. His defensive versatility led the Yankees to make the decision to start the season with 16 pitchers and just three benches.

“Let’s say when you give a guy a day off, you can aim more in terms of matchup when you have the ability to move around,” Boon said. “Giancarlo (Stanton) can now go into the long range regularly, but it will be important and of course you will see it when you come out on top.

“I mean, every day is going to be a little different because we’re going to have a consistent outlet,” Boon continued. “Like we’ll have a permanent agent tomorrow.” And this guy will probably be there the next day.”

The Yankees got their first real taste of versatility with DJ LeMahieu, who doesn’t often play shortstop or outfield and loves the flexibility he brought to their lineup. However, as the Rays have shown, there is an advantage to having multiple players who can move around the field and fit in wherever needed.

Gonzalez was a key player in the 2017 World Series champion Astros, which was also his career season. He was an early hybrid of that era, along with Ben Zobrist, who was valued not as a shortstop or second baseman, but for all the positions he could play.

“He has changed a lot. I think when it all started for me it was like one or two guys in the whole league (who did it) and then in the next few years again like Quique (Hernandez),” Gonzalez said. “And now I see that all the teams are trying to please, even before they get into the big list, young guys are moved to the secondary. that’s what every team is trying to do now.”

For Gonzalez, versatility has supported his career, and he sees it will be even more valued in the future. In fact, he made sure to mention it to Yankee prospect Oswaldo Cabrera this spring. Like him, the 23-year-old Venezuelan broke into professional baseball as a shortstop, but Gonzalez encouraged him to explore other positions.

“I told him it was good to keep my options open,” Gonzalez said, “to move around and see what happens. I think the way the game is going can help him and others.”

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