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With one swing, Adrian Gonzalez left his fears behind

02.24.11 at 2:32 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Adrian Gonzalez took the day off from swinging a bat Wednesday. Red Sox manager Terry Francona classified it as a sort of regeneration day for the first baseman, who had spent the previous two mornings hitting off a tee for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery.

But along with the rest, Gonzalez also used the day for some reflection.

The lefty-hitting slugger admitted that there was some trepidation when swinging a bat Monday morning, wondering if the surgery would allow for a pain-free cut for the first time in more than a year. But after swing No. 1, the fear disappeared.

“It was a relief because I was able to finish without any pinching or discomfort, which last year I felt the whole time,” Gonzalez explained.

“You go into the first couple of swings thinking to take it slow to see if you feel anything. The first swing you take a 50 percent swing, you don’t feel anything, then you pick it up and by the fifth swing all of sudden you’re at full speed with a good finish and everything.”

While there were few signs of what was going through Gonzalez’s head that first day of swinging a bat, Day 2 allowed for some clarity regarding the situation.

“I’m sure it entered into his mind. He said it the next day,” said Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan, who was present for Gonzalez’s swinging sessions, along with head trainer Mike Reinold. “It was the second day he it and MIke Reinold asked, ‘How’s it feel?’ He said ‘It feels good. I feel like I’m really letting it go.’ [Gonzalez] said [Tuesday], ‘I had a little bit of jitters at the beginning wondering how it was going to feel and it felt great.’

“He didn’t show any limitations. His effort level was what I remember it being when he hit off the tee when I was in San Diego. So, I don’t see any issues at all.”

Gonzalez pointed out that while there was some natural reluctance heading into his return to the batting cage, he also carried an ample amount of confidence considering the progress he had made since undergoing the surgery shortly after the 2010 season.

“I felt comfortable knowing it should be healed and it should be feel better because I haven’t had any setbacks, or any point since the surgery that I might be this or that,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve always felt the better end of the way they said I should feel.

“I was always 10 degrees higher in range of motion than I should have been. There was never a feeling of any tenderness. Everything going into swinging the bat everything had been above and beyond what was expected so I knew going in I should be in a good spot.”

Gonzalez credits a past experience with finding his current lot in life. He admits that the memory of not properly rehabbing a surgically-repaired wrist following the ’02 season — allowing the ailment to linger for more than a year — was fresh in his mind throughout his recovery from shoulder surgery.

“I can honestly say I didn’t rehab it the way I should have and when I started playing it wasn’t right, and it felt like it wasn’t right. I allowed myself to be rushed and it took almost a year and a half to feel 100 percent with the wrist. It was definitely a lesson,” Gonzalez said. “Going into [the rehab from shoulder surgery], if they said I had to do rehab two times a week I would do it three times a week. It was a learning experience. You always have to go through it so that you can learn. It’s not that it stinks that I had to go through it, I’m kind of glad I went through it because now I know what it takes.”

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