Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is giving his veteran slugger a rare extended break in an attempt to help him out of yet another offensive downturn this season.
“You look over the last couple weeks, he’s not swinging well, and sometimes, I think it’s good to get away,” Roberts said.
Gonzalez is batting just .176 over his past 13 games, with a .204 on-base percentage. He has just two extra-base hits and two RBIs over that time.
The struggles are reminiscent of the Dodgers' seven-game homestand that started in late April, when Gonzalez went a brutal 0-for-20, with eight strikeouts.
Roberts thinks that defensive shifts are getting the best of Gonzalez on multiple fronts. Not only has Gonzalez been making outs by hitting into overloaded infields, he is not having any luck hitting away from them, either. It's starting to take a toll mentally.
“If you see three infielders on the right side of the infield and you’re not getting hits, logic says that if I can put the ball on the ground the other way, then I can get a hit,” Roberts said. “That’s kind of what the shift does for the mentality, the psyche of a hitter. That’s part of the strategy. And if you can play into a hitter’s psyche -- to maybe deviate from what they want to do or to try to hit the ball out of the ballpark -- then it plays to the psyche of the defense.”
Roberts wants Gonzalez to cut down on his opposite-field tendencies and drive balls to the pull side. But once again on Saturday, Gonzalez grounded into a shift, where the second baseman was playing in shallow right field. His body language seemed to show his frustration.
“I think there are pitches that he’s missing, but I think it is based on his intent to go the other way,” Roberts said. “And sometimes hitters, when they’re trying to get going again, they want to see the ball a little longer and see the whole field. Sometimes that causes you to be late on fastballs. I think that is the byproduct.”
Gonzalez has not played fewer than 156 games in any of the previous 10 seasons, but it remains a possibility that he would dip under that this season. He already has missed four games this season, and if he does not pinch hit on either Sunday or Monday, that number will go up.
“I definitely don’t think this is the new normal for Adrian,” Roberts said Saturday. “It takes everyone to help be productive, as far as an offense. Can guys pick up Adrian now? Yes. But this is not what I envision for Adrian. I’m not too concerned about him on the offensive side.”