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Andres Gimenez

Soccer skills help Guardians star Andres Gimenez

Andres Gimenez becomes defensive wizard

HOUSTON – Andres Gimenez dodged a baseball that ricocheted off the L-screen as he ran between second and third during batting practice recently. The Cleveland Guardians’ All-Star second baseman stopped the ball with his foot and then kicked it out of the way.

As the ball rolled on the Minute Maid Park turf, he performed step-overs, a move used often in soccer to fool defenders. 

The Barquisimeto, Venezuela, native played baseball and soccer religiously as an adolescent. He enjoyed playing both sports. At 14 years old, though, Andres Gimenez had to make a tough decision of which sport to pursue.

Gimenez chose baseball because a future in the major leagues became a possibility when he joined a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.

Footwork key for Andres Gimenez

“To play soccer you have to have your feet ready,” he said. “Yes it has helped in some ways. I always try to maintain my soccer touch because I never know when I am going to play again.”

During every offseason, the 5-foot-11 second baseman focuses on his footwork. He performs high-intensity workouts that include plenty of movement. His main goal is to have his feet in a comfortable position to make split-second decisions.

His precise footwork, agility and athleticism drills have helped Gimenez garner a seven-year, $106.5 million contract. The two-time Gold Glove winner won his first career Rawlings Platinum Glove in 2023, which made him the first second baseman and the first Venezuelan born player to win the prestigious defensive award.

Since 2011, Rawlings has awarded one Platinum Glove per league to the best defensive player among all of the Gold Glove winners each season.

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Gimenez and shortstop Francisco Lindor, who won a Platinum Glove Award in 2016, are the only two Cleveland players to have won a Platinum Glove. 

“It makes me feel good,” Gimenez said of winning the Platinum Glove Award. “Honestly, it’s a lot of work I do in the back end. For me it’s an honor to win the award.

“To be the first Venezuelan to do it is special. I didn’t know anyone else from Venezuela hadn’t done it. It’s an honor.”

Breaking through

Gimenez, 25, took an enormous leap in 2022. He made his first All-Star appearance, was sixth in MVP voting, and secured his first Gold Glove. 

He is known for his defense, but his offense doesn’t lack behind. Gimenez launched his first home run of the year against Houston’s Hunter Brown on Tuesday night. Cleveland trailed 8-3 when Gimenez hit a 401-foot two-run home run to cut the deficit to three. 

His keen eye at the plate makes Gimenez a prominent hitter at the top of Cleveland’s batting order. Gimenez leads the Guardians in stolen bases (4) and ranks third in batting average and runs so far. 

Rookie manager Stephan Vogt has loved what he has seen from Andres Gimenez. 

“Gimenez is one the better hitters of the game,” Vogt said. “His approach is phenomenal. He takes what the pitcher gives him and he is not trying to do too much. He is just a solid baseball player.

“Defensively he’s a wizard. He won the Platinum Glove for a reason, and it probably won’t be his last, I think.”

Gimenez is in his fifth season of his young career. With his tremendous character and play on the field, he could be the next Jose Altuve, a Venezuelan icon and potential Hall of Famer.

Andres Gimenez is more than a defensive wizard. He also has some pop in his bat. Photo by L.C. Arreguin/ Our Esquina.

Gimenez is a young veteran amidst a youthful Guardian squad. Many young players are eager to learn from him. Gimenez is not very vocal, but his actions speak volumes. He plays the game the correct way, and that tends to spread throughout the clubhouse. 

“Yea it feels good to have a lot of young players who have plenty of talent,” Gimenez said. “In the clubhouse they always ask questions. They want to know about the experience and with the little that I learned from my short time here I always give great advice.”

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