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Old 03-26-2008, 10:05 AM
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Default Gonzalez a slugger whose favorite plays start with his glove

Gonzalez a slugger whose favorite plays start with his glove
By Bill Center
March 26, 2008

PEORIA, Ariz. – Perhaps the seed was planted when he pitched as a youth ... or that season in Little League when he was a left-handed shortstop.

“I like to throw the ball,” says the Padres' Adrian Gonzalez. “It's one of the little joys of baseball, to throw the ball, to play catch, to make that sharp throw that not only is on target but snaps the glove.”

Plus, Gonzalez is by nature, in his words, “aggressive on the baseball field.”

Which all leads to a play – the throw – that is becoming as much his signature as driving the ball deep to the opposite field at Petco Park.
Gonzalez led all major league first basemen with 140 assists last season. Many of those were not tosses to the pitcher covering first on a grounder to the right side. Rather, Gonzalez is among the most adept first baseman in the game at throwing out runners.

“Few first basemen I've seen go after runners the way Adrian does,” manager Bud Black said last season. “His throws are sharp and accurate. And he goes after them, he wants to throw everyone out.”

“I'm not scared to let a throw go,” Gonzalez said recently. “I want the runner. And I think the reward is much greater than the risk of throwing the ball away.

Originally Posted by
Fine at first

How Adrian Gonzalez ranked among National League first basemen in 2007:

Games played: 161 (1)
Innings: 1,462 (1)
Putouts: 1,470 (1)
Assists: 140 (1)
Double plays: 134 (3)
Fielding pct: .994 (T-5)
Errors: 10 (9)

“If I can make an accurate throw to second on the front end of a bunt or a ball hit to first, we've got a chance to take away two runners. Some guys who have bunted or grounded to first in those situations stopped, thinking the out play at first is automatic.

“I want the guy at second. And it helps me that (shortstop) Khalil Greene is down there to take the throw. He's the best I've seen. But the throw to second should be made by any left-handed first baseman.”

Gonzalez's ability to charge a bunt and throw to second or sidearm the ball across the infield led to some unusual double-play combinations last season – such as 3-6-4, 3-6-1 and 3-5-6.

Around the National League, Gonzalez, 25, is best known as one of the league's emerging young hitters – even though his home ballpark neutralizes some of his strengths.

Last season he batted .282 with 46 doubles, 30 homers and 100 RBI despite playing half his games at Petco. Gonzalez hit much better on the road (.295, 20 homers, 64 RBI and a franchise-record 53 extra-base hits) than at home (.266-10-36).

“There's no question I put up my numbers on the road,” said Gonzalez. “Petco Park does not work in favor of some of our key hitters. It gets to me and I complain like anyone else.

“But it is what it is. Over the past two seasons, I've made more outs to the opposite-field fence than anyone in baseball.”

At home, Gonzalez leads with his glove and arm as much as his bat.
“It's been proven that runs are a premium at Petco Park,” said Gonzalez. “So if you can cut down a runner with your arm or pick up some outs around the bag, it's big for the team.”

Gonzalez said he learned to appreciate the defensive aspects of playing first as a youth watching current Padres batting coach Wally Joyner.
“I watched Wally a lot when I was growing up,” said the Chula Vista native and former No. 1 overall draft pick (Marlins, 2000) out of Eastlake High. “Wally and J.T. Snow were the best.

“J.T. might have had a little better range. But Wally didn't miss anything. If the ball was hit his way, he got it. And on throws, the Padres infielders had the ultimate confidence that Joyner was going to get anything they threw his way. Guys make great plays when they have that confidence in the first baseman.”

Aside from throwing, Gonzalez's defensive strengths are balls hit to either side, charging the bunt and digging out low throws.

“I have to improve on balls hit right at me,” he said. “When the ball is hit right at me, I lock up. It seems it always hits off my forearm.”

No such problems on balls hit to either side, particularly to his right. Gonzalez might not be the fastest Padre afoot, but he has a quick first step.

“That and a lot of it is anticipation,” said Gonzalez. “I'm pretty good at recognizing some things. I know a lot of hitters' swings. In bunt situations, I'm charging. And if it's a good hitter, I want to get him to bunt.”

As for around the bag . . .

“I've had good hands my whole life,” said Gonzalez. “My thought is that I'm better off staying and catching the ball rather than swiping at a low throw. The one thing I tell the infielders is not to throw the ball over my head.”

Gonzalez said he enjoys being in the field.

“When I was with Texas, they talked about me becoming a designated hitter,” he said. “I didn't want that. I want to be in the game. I think defense is an exciting part of the game.”

But his favorite play is not the throw.

“I love getting the back-pick(off) throw from the catcher at first,” he said. “There's a feel to that play. You have to get it just right, the timing of the break to be at the bag at the same time as the throw. You can't give it away. There is such a great feeling when it works.”

The secret of Gonzalez's success is hard work.

“When I was young, I was not the most talented player on my teams,” said Gonzalez. “People don't believe that, but it's true. I tell kids that all the time. I worked hard.

“Sadly, many people I knew when I was growing up took roads they shouldn't have.”
I've been a fan of this kid from day one. He's a tremendous fielder and has a very consistent, clutch bat. He's only 25 and probably is still on the upside of his career.

I know we all miss Aki Otsuka, but that trade netted us Gonzo AND Chris Young?

Great job, KT.

Keep up the good work, Gonzo!

17 + 85 = 102% Domination
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:07 AM
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JCDavey JCDavey is offline
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i never really liked him as a fielder , he's ok, but he's made some really bonehead errors

much better as a batter IMO

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Old 03-26-2008, 10:07 AM
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Gonzo is the man!!!!

Thanks for the article, and I cant wait for the season to start.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:36 PM
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I think he would be an allstar every year if it weren't for Lee and Pujols
Live in the present, remember the past, and fear not the future, for it doesn't exist and never shall, there is only the now - christopher paolin
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Old 05-30-2008, 07:21 AM
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I know with the recent problems with the sever we lost a few months of posts; but Gonzo has gone on a tear lately. WOW what a great month of May for him. 15 HR's and 44 RBI's is a great start for two months of playing.
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Old 06-02-2008, 02:59 PM
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Gonzo is on pace to finish with 45 HR and 140 RBI!! This is in a lineup that is famous for not hitting. Think about the numbers he'd put up with a little protection.

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Old 07-15-2008, 08:09 PM
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If the NL can hold on for two innings, Adrian has the game winning RBI in tonight's All-Star game.

Edit: Well, so much for that. Evan Longoria just doubled-in the tying run for the AL.

Last edited by Chargers Fan; 07-15-2008 at 08:20 PM..
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Old 07-16-2008, 10:45 AM
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Adrian did us proud, though. Flashed some nice leather and came up with a clutch sac fly when the NL needed it. 1-3, RBI. Pretty typical Adrian.

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