Adrian Gonzalez adds another chapter to remarkable year
|07.13.11 at 12:56 am ET|
PHOENIX — When Adrian Gonzalez arrived at Chase Field on Tuesday, after he had cranked 31 homers in three rounds of the Home Run Derby on Monday night, he could feel the burn.
“It’s sore,” he said, comparing the experience to that of an intense session of weight lifting.
Yet if there was any residual discomfort from his Monday night exertions, that was hardly apparent. Gonzalez, who was appearing in his fourth All-Star game, slammed his first home run in a Midsummer Classic on Tuesday, taking Phillies hurler Cliff Lee deep on an 0-1 cutter that cleared the fence in right. The solo shot gave the AL a short-lived 1-0 lead en route to a 5-1 loss.
Yet unlike Monday night, Gonzalez suggested that this longball was not the byproduct of design, and that he wasn’t swinging for the fences.
“It’s a lot different when a guy is throwing BP to when Cliff Lee is pitching,” said Gonzalez. “[The first-pitch] was a fastball away that I swung through. Then he threw a front-door cutter that I was able to stay on. I got it enough up in the air to carry it out of the park.”
Gonzalez appeared less impressed with his feat — the first homer in an All-Star Game since J.D. Drew went deep in the 2008 contest — than were his teammates.
“I was joking around. I said, ‘The Home Run Derby didn’t mess up your swing,’” said Jacoby Ellsbury. “He’s just a great player, great swing. The Home Run Derby, that’s one thing with him – he doesn’t have to change anything. He does so much for our team – driving in runs, hits for average. I was just happy to see him hit a home run.”
Gonzalez has hit 17 home runs this year, a pace that would yield 31 over the full baseball calendar. It is not an outrageous total, as he ranks 10th in the American League.
Nonetheless, those who have been watching him throughout the year have quickly reached the point where they are unsurprised by anything that he does on the field. That Gonzalez went deep against one of the best pitchers in the game was treated in matter-of-fact fashion by other members of the Sox.
“It’s just the kind of player he is and it was really good to see him do that,” said Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis. “He’s hopefully going to take that into the second half.”
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