Adrian Gonzalez on M&M: David Ortiz has ‘done everything on his own’
|06.20.11 at 12:27 pm ET|
Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez made an appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning as he prepared to face his former team, the Padres, Monday night at Fenway Park.
Gonzalez talked about his relationship with David Ortiz, as the two frequently have been spotted in the dugout talking strategy. Most people have assumed Gonzalez has played a role in helping Ortiz regain his stroke, but Gonzalez downplayed his impact.
“For me, with Papi, he’s been an incredible help for me as well,” Gonzalez said. “And I know that there’s been a lot of times that he comes to me and he’s just asking me, ‘Hey, what’s this pitcher got?’ Or, ‘What do see on him on video?’ And I’ll relay what I’ve seen, what I’ve done. We’ve just had a great relationship. It’s worked really well both ways. He’s helped me a ton, and I think I’ve helped him a little bit.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Were you psyched to come here to Boston and get more triples than [Jacoby] Ellsbury through the middle of June?
No, definitely not. It’s not something that I even look into or try to do during the season. I just try to get one to fill the goose egg in the column. It’s just worked out that way. Three lucky bounces, or balls hit in the right spots. If I can get there, I think anybody else could be standing out there, or maybe trying for an inside-the-parker. They’ve just been fortunate bounces for me.
A lot of these fans here that have watched you play, I think the one moment that they take away and mention to me a lot is that home run off of CC Sabathia in Yankee Stadium, when you went up there and pulled a little Ichiro. And when I saw that home run, I said, “This guy’s not afraid to fail, because he’s willing to go out there and try some things that maybe others weren’t.”
This game’s all about failure. I always tell my teammates that. If I’m 0-for-4, in a way I’m happier than most people who would be, because I failed four times in a row and more often than not, the next one’s going to be a good one. I just try to take that mentality all the time, and have fun with the game, enjoy the game. If I feel like a pitcher’s dominating me, I’ll ask Tito [Francona], “Are you sure you don’t want to take me out here? I have not been doing pretty good against this guy so far. If I do [stay in], I’ll try something new.” Just having fun with the game and enjoying it and trying the best to succeed every time.
A lot of times when guys switch leagues, it’s not exactly an easy transition at the beginning. Was there any kind of an adjustment for you with that?
I don’t just go up to the plate and try to figure out what the pitcher has. I never thought there would be an adjustment in that sense because I do so much studying on video. By the time I get up to the plate, I already know what the pitcher does — his tendencies, what pitches he wants to go to. The only thing left is just to see the pitch. Once I get through seeing the ball come out of the pitcher’s hands the first time through the at-bat, the second and third time around, I’m pretty comfortable.
It’s one of those things that I just make an effort to put extra time in the video room and let what I’ve seen on the video dictate what I’m going to feel when I get to the plate.
Your numbers at Fenway Park say you’re batting .360. Is it as enjoyable for you hitting as the batting average there at Fenway Park appears to be through the middle of June?
It’s a great place to hit. I’ve always said that once you take a person out of Petco Park, every place is going to seem like a great place to hit and you’re going to really enjoy it.
Up until now it’s been great. I’ve gotten a couple of balls that in other parks would be outs — long outs to left-center or left field— and they’ve been off the wall or over the fence. And there’s been a couple of balls where I’ve really backed up and lined it really good and they’ve ended up going off the wall and I’ve gotten a single out of it where it would have been a homer somewhere else. But overall you’re getting something positive in return regardless of which one it is, which is the best thing about it.
It really just changes your mentality. It really changes how you go about it. It will turn a day where you would go 1-for-5 into a 2-for-5. That’s a big difference in the statistics. It’s a good place to hit for me. My approach is good for the ballpark as everybody knows. I just try to stay behind the ball and think, “Hit the ball off that left-center wall out there.”
I know that’s your approach, but it looked like early on in this season, especially at Fenway Park, it looked like teams were challenging you to hit the ball to the big part of the park, pounding you in so much. Did you get away from that approach for a while?
No, you know what happens is — and it will happen next year and the following year — is at the beginning of the year I’m not backing up the ball as good as I want to, because I have confidence, a trust in my hands and my balance. You tend to be a little more aggressive and think, “I don’t want to get beat here.” So you tend to swing at more pitches, you tend to go after more pitches on the inner half than you want to. But as you get more comfortable, you get into May, you start drifting your hands, you start getting that feel for backing the ball up, and then everything starts clicking.
It happens to me every April. This was an unusual April in the fact that most Aprils I end up hitting like .240, .250 but I have home runs. In this April I didn’t have home runs but I had more average. So, it was a little bit awkward for me as far as how I’ve been in the past, but for me, April is always a month where I don’t really back up the ball as much and just try to go off of a more aggressive mentality to get my swing back.
We hear a lot about David Ortiz really benefiting from your addition to this team. He has a guy to talk hitting with. How has that relationship been? Do you like sitting around talking hitting?
David has been unbelievable. He’s an incredible hitter and he’s done everything on his own. There’s a lot of times that we will talk about hitting, and I really do love talking about hitting. For me, hitting is something that I always tell: Hitting is easy; we make it difficult. If you were to put the ball on a tee and tell somebody, “Hit it where you want to,” you should be able to. But once we get into the box, we start thinking about all these things. We start thinking about, “Is he going to pitch me in? Is he going to pitch me away?”
We’re always talking about — for me, I’m like, just focus on side of the plate or the other. Don’t try to hit everything. Don’t try to hit every pitch, the hard and the slow. Just focus on one side of the plate or soft or hard or whatever. Just focus on that. When I talk about hitting, those are the things I talk about.
For me, with Papi, he’s been an incredible help for me as well. And I know that there’s been a lot of times that he comes to me and he’s just asking me, “Hey, what’s this pitcher got?” Or, “What do see on him on video?” And I’ll relay what I’ve seen, what I’ve done. We’ve just had a great relationship. It’s worked really well both ways. He’s helped me a ton, and I think I’ve helped him a little bit.
I’m not sure how big a fan of hockey you are, but that experience yesterday in Boston, being a newcomer to this city, had to be pretty special, just to be part of that.
It was great. It was great to be watching the games. I don’t understand hockey a ton, but I know that when the puck goes in the goal, it’s a goal. It was fun to watch, and I really enjoyed watching those guys go out there and do what they did. It was fun just to congratulate them and tell them that we’re proud of them, and see the city respond and be behind them and be full-board for them. It was pretty cool.
On possibly playing in the outfield during the upcoming interleague road trip:
I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes. I have played the outfield in winter ball as well. When I was in Texas, Mark Teixeira was the first baseman. So in order for me to get into the lineup, I’d have to try it out in September in right and then I went and played winter ball, I played right field in winter ball.
As we all know, I’m not fleet-footed, I’m not going to be able to cover a lot of ground or do anything in the outfield. But if it’s a fly ball, I should be able to catch it. I don’t know what we’re going to do. I haven’t talked to the coaches about it, so I really don’t know. If anything, we’ll mix and match there, and I’m sure we’re going to make sure that Papi gets his at-bats so he stays in rhythm and stays in the game and in the lineup.
On National League vs. American League pitching:
In the National League, the way they attack players is different. In the American League, you have the DH on, you put a middle-of-the-order guy in the lineup, it just changes everything around. In the National League, you try to build everything around working towards the back end of the lineup. There’s a lot more situational pitching, where you walk the sixth, seventh guy in the lineup to get to the eight, nine guy, and eventually get to the pitcher, get to the pitcher with two outs with bases loaded, so you don’t care if it’s the pitcher hitting.
The mentalities are a lot different, but in essence, too, there’s less people on base all the time. So the pitchers are more aggressive and more confident, and they’re not afraid to just go after you with more fastballs. In the National League you have a lot more offspeed pitches. Because they don’t have that breathing room with the pitcher, and all those sac bunts and free outs that they would in the National League, it’s definitely a different mentality.
Talent-wise, you’re going to see guys throw in the mid-90s and good off-speed pitchers all around the league, in both leagues. Coming up in the National League West, it’s always been the Cy Young and the runner-up, and all the pitchers are always coming out of the West. I think that’s attributed a lot to the ballparks, that they’re bigger over there, but it’s also those pitchers are pretty tough. The Giants won the World Series with pitching last year, and they’re pitching was incredible. I think overall they’re very comparable, but I think confidence is a lot better in the West.
On possibly skipping the All-Star Game due to Arizona’s anti-immigration law:
That’s something that was first taken out of proportion, taken out of context. The quote that was printed was not my full quote, so that’s something that was blown out and really not accurate in the sense of how they wrote it. I never said I wouldn’t go. I said if the players association gave us the right, and many others players ahead of me, guys that I looked up to and had more time, started to back out, then I would consider not going. None of those things have taken place, and as far as I know everything is good in Arizona. The law is in a good place with some adjustments that they made, so there’s no reason for me to even consider not going.
On the future of the Red Sox:
From John Henry all the way down, it’s a great organization. They really know how to develop the draft picks, and get them to the big leagues in a place where they can succeed. … There’s a great future here, and I’m really excited about it. This team’s been put in a position to win the World Series year in and year out, and it’s great for the fans to be able to have that.
On Boston fans:
For us to have the fans that we have here is really incredible. I’ve really been just amazed at their support and the way that they come out each and every night. They’re there for us from first pitch until the last out, and it’s great to see and play for them.
On playing his old Padres teammates for the first time:
Once I leave that BP area and I get in the clubhouse, I’m going to get my mind right and play like another game. Once I come back out for the game, it’s just another game on the schedule. During BP and before that, I’m definitely going to hang out with them, talk to them and just spend a little time with them.
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