Juan Gonzalez was 16 when he signed with the Texas Rangers. He played his first full season in 1991. He was with the Rangers for a decade. He went to play for the Tigers for 2000 then joined the Indians for 2001. He returned to the Texas Rangers for 2002 and 2003. He played for the Kansas City Royals in 2004. While with the Indians, he sat out most of the 2005 season because of hamstring problems.
Athlete, professional baseball player. Born on October 16, 1969, in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. Considered by some to be the best Puerto Rican player since Roberto Clemente, Gonzalez spent part of his youth in a rough neighborhood surrounded by drugs and violence. His family moved to a safer area when he was a teen. In his new neighborhood he played on a local baseball team and showed promise as a hitter.
Gonzalez was only 16 years old when he got a contract with the Texas Rangers, which his father signed for him because of his age. He spent several seasons with their minor league teams before being called up to the majors in 1989. He played his first full season in 1991, scoring 27 home runs and 102 runs batted in (RBIs).
With the Texas Rangers for a decade, Gonzalez had several strong seasons. Based on his performance, the outfielder was selected for the American League All-Star team in 1993, 1998, and 2001. While injuries sidelined him for part of 1995, he came back the next season stronger than ever. In 1996, Gonzalez scored 47 home runs and had a batting average of .314. That year he won the American League MVP Award. Gonzalez received this honor again in 1998.
Gonzalez went to play for the Detroit Tigers for the 2000 season and then joined the Cleveland Indians for the 2001 season. He returned to the Texas Rangers for 2002 and 2003 seasons with a deal worth more than $20 million. A torn muscle in his right hand in 2002 left Gonzalez on the bench for several weeks and a leg injury in 2003 also put Gonzalez on the disabled list for a time.
Gonzalez continued to be plagued by injuries. Playing for the Kansas City Royals in 2004, he played only 33 games. While with the Cleveland Indians, he sat out most of the 2005 season because of hamstring problems. Despite all of his injuries, Gonzalez has quite an impressive record in the major leagues: 434 home runs, 1,404 RBIs, and a batting average of .295. Some sports commentators believe he is a strong candidate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
While out of the major leagues, Gonzalez still plays the game he loves. In 2006, he reached a deal to play for the Long Island Ducks, a minor league team.
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