BALTIMORE -- For those wondering when they’ll start to see Adrian Gonzalez start mashing the ball as advertised, the Red Sox first baseman calmly replies: It’s coming.
And while he appreciates the concern, Gonzalez dismisses the suggestion made by manager Terry Francona that his shoulder surgery has impacted his hitting in any way, especially the lack of power in his first month with the team. Gonzalez entered Thursday night’s game batting .290, but so far has hit just one home run, matching the fewest he’s hit in any April in his career. Two years ago, playing for the San Diego Padres in a much more spacious ballpark, he hit nine home runs in April. Last season, he hit six.
“If you’ve watched my BPs [batting practices] up until now, I haven’t been able to drive the ball because my swing’s not there,’’ he said. “I’ve been top-spinning everything. It’s just mechanical. It has nothing to do with my shoulder. My shoulder’s strong. My body’s strong.
“In spring training, my swing felt great and I was hitting home runs in BP all over the place. For whatever reason, I got into a mechanical flaw, from the first week of the season until now. It’s a matter of getting out of it.’’
He shakes his head when someone suggests it must be maddening to be aware of a mechanical flaw and not be able to remedy it quickly.
“In ’07,’’ he said, “I remember I went through a span where I hit like .160 for a full month and a half. It’s part of the game. I know that by the end of the year my numbers are still going to be there.’’
The hits have begun to come with greater frequency for Gonzalez. He has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, with multiple hits in five of those games, including a double and RBI single in Wednesday night’s 5-4 loss to the Orioles. But his last home run came on April 6, when he connected off Frank Herman of the Indians. That’s a span of 18 games.
Gonzalez is not concerned. He went 18 games without a home run last season, when he played with a sore right shoulder, and finished with 31 homers. In 2009, there was a 23-game drought, and he hit 40. In 2008, 25 games without a home run, 36 for the season.
Does the San Diego native warm up with the weather?
“It has nothing to do with weather,’’ he said. “It’s got to do with repetition. It’s got to do with trust. I’ve never hit for high averages in Aprils. I’ve hit home runs, and that’s just because I’m running into balls, but never for average. I’ll have a game where I go 0-for-4, then 2-for-4. A lot of 0-fers with a lot of multihit games.
“I’ll come out for a game and I’ll feel great and then the very next day I feel like crap. Once I get to the point where I’m really comfortable, I’ve seen enough pitches out of a pitcher’s hand, I’ve seen enough pitchers multiple times, and I know what they’re going to do, then all of a sudden it’s more the game planning, the trust in myself, the pitch I’m going to be looking for, those things start to come on.’’
For Gordon Edes' entire column on Gonzalez, click here.