Gonzalez, 38, has one Major League at-bat in the past three seasons. So while he's trying to prove to the Cardinals that he can still hit, he's also trying to show that he can stay on the field. Gonzalez didn't play defense at all during the first 10 days of Grapefruit League games, serving as a designated hitter instead.
"That's why we took pains to DH him and not play him in the outfield, was to make sure that his legs were built up slowly," manager Tony La Russa said Thursday. "He's shown a lot of good things in this camp, but one of the things he's got to show is the durability for the role that he has."
Gonzalez said he's been dealing with some discomfort for about a week, but it became more troublesome on Wednesday. He was scheduled to be in the Cardinals' lineup that day against the Marlins, but was scratched when he complained of increased pain.
"I felt comfortable [at first], but yesterday when I came in, something [was] not comfortable in my abs," Gonzalez said.
He's cleared to do just about everything on a baseball field but run. Gonzalez has been swinging in batting practice, and he fired throws from the outfield during morning drills on Thursday.
"He can still hit," said head athletic trainer Barry Weinberg. "[We're] just erring on the side of caution. Keep him out of overdoing it for a day or so. It's a short-term thing. We'll go day by day and let him get another good workout in. He hit [Wednesday] and had no problem hitting. It just bothered him a little bit running, so we wanted to make sure that when he starts running, it doesn't bother him."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.