Unfazed Gonzalez goes about business after trade to L.A.

866719.jpg

Unfazed Gonzalez goes about business after trade to L.A.

DENVER -- Adrian Gonzalez isn't unaccustomed to being traded.

Drafted by the Florida Marlins, he's since been dealt to Texas, San Diego and Boston before being traded again Saturday in one of the biggest trades in baseball history.

He's played on the East Coast twice, in the South and twice on the West Coast. He's been in the National League and American League.

So while the nine-player blockbuster that also featured an exchange of more than a quarter of a billion dollars rocked the baseball world, Gonzalez remained calm and serene.

Been there, done that.

So while once and present teammate Nick Punto described the last few days of a "whirlwindchaos," Gonzalez mostly shrugged it off.

"No, it's sunk in, absolutely," said the former Red Sox first baseman in the visitor's clubhouse at Coors Field, where the Dodgers opened a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies. "I've been saying that I'm really happy and excited to be here. It's a great fit personally. The Dodger fans were awesome (in his two-game debut last weekend). The Hispanic population, the way they've rallied around me...

"I'm still, like, 'Is this really happening?' But it's sunk in as far being in a pennant race. I'm just trying to go out there and win every day."

When it was suggested that given the amount of money his new team took on from on from his former team, the expectations would be greater in L.A., Gonzalez dismissed the notion as though purposefully fouling off a pitch he wasn't particularly fond of.

"My only expectations," said Gonzalez evenly, "is to go out there and prepare, do my work, be ready to play and give it all I have. I can't control the outcomes. I can't control if I hit a line drive at somebody or the pitcher makes a good pitch.

"But if I'm prepared, the results should be there."

He answered every question posed to him Monday in much the same way: No, it wouldn't be a big adjustment. Yes, he was happy to be on a winner. No, he didn't want to leave Boston. Yes, Los Angeles should be just fine.

This shouldn't come as a big surprise. Gonzalez doesn't rattle. David Ortiz noted more than once that it was impossible to determine after a game whether Gonzalez had gone 4-for-4 or 0-for-4.

There was no panic, sometimes precious little emotion.

These answers came a day after Gonzalez suggested that he didn't have the type of fiery personality that Boston wants in its stars. He noted that it wasn't his style to toss his helmet in anger, as Kevin Youkilis might have done, or unleash a string of expletives, as Dustin Pedroia has been known to do.

That, Gonzalez said, was not his style. That, he hinted, was why he was never accepted in Boston, and probably never would be.

But he made clear that while he wasn't necessarily what Boston wanted, he never had a problem playing there.

"I thought it was a great fit," said Gonzalez. "Everything that happened, it wasn't a personal thing. It was more of a September thing."

Here, too, Gonzalez couldn't understand why fans and media couldn't forget about September of 2011, when the Sox stumbled to a 7-20 finish and blew a 9 12 game lead, costing themselves a playoff spot in the final inning of the final game.

For Sox fans, it was devastating. For Gonzalez, it was disappointing. Disappointing, but also, over with.

"People are always going to be mad when they have expectations of the team winning," shrugged Gonzalez. "The reasons people were giving for losing, us, as players, were going, 'Where's this coming from?'"

The "reasons" Gonzalez referred to, of course, are code for the chicken-and-beer scandal which rocked the organization to its core last fall. But here again, Gonzalez doesn't see what the big deal was.

One or two more wins, Gonzalez believes, would have changed everything.

"Nobody would have been writing about all this other stuff," he said. "People would have been writing about the wild card, the playoff series. And if we ended up winning a couple of series, everybody would have said, 'How awesome. These guys really get along -- they drink beer during the game.'"

To many, the 2011 Red Sox were unfocused and undisciplined. To Gonzalez and many of the players, it was because they didn't pitch or hit well enough.

But while Gonzalez tried to move on, the environment didn't allow it. If the Sox had begun the 2012 season, say, 19-14 instead of 14-19, the past would have been the past.

It wasn't however. In the minds of the players, last September got draped across them like an albatross, something they couldn't shake.

"The way everybody responded to the team (this year) was because of (last September)," he said.

So given that, change -- in the form of Saturday's trade -- would be welcomed, right?

"It didn't need to change," he said. "But the fact that it came about and I'm here, it's the perfect fit for me."

Pressed, he acknowledged that he far prefers playing in the National League.

"Oh, absolutely," he said. "The National League, it's more baseball - more bunting, more moving guys over, understanding who's in the lineup when the nine hole comes up, pitching around guys . . . In the American League, it's just up there and bash."

Asked what he'll remember most about his time in Boston, Gonzalez doesn't hesitate: "Great fans. Great game atmosphere. That's the thing that was really amazing to be part of -- the great fan base."

The Dodgers have great fans, too. Different city, different league, but still baseball for Adrian Gonzalez.

Life goes on.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

red_sox_twins_what_we_learned-overlay-master.png

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

ap_235615453112.jpg

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES:

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one had a chance to be ended right there.'' - John Farrell on David Ortiz's at-bat with no out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

"I feel like I can locate it better - outside, inside corner -- so it's given me more confidence.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on the improvement with his slider.

"I always look forward to something (good) happening; it just doesn't work out all the time.'' - David Ortiz on his ninth-inning at-bat.

NOTES:

* The Red Sox saw a seven-game winning streak at Fenway -- their longest of the season -- snapped.

* Boston has homered in 13 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox bullpen has posted a 1.17 ERA since July 6.

* Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox hitter to hit 20 homers in a season before he turns 24 since Nomar Garciaparra.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 30 straight games.

* The eight strikeouts posted by Eduardo Rodriguez were a season high and one shy of his career high.

* The loss was only the 15th this season in games in which the Red Sox score first.

* Rodriguez has not allowed an opposing baserunner to steal a base since July 5, 2015.

STARS:

1) Kyle Gibson

Don't let the 5.12 ERA he had coming in fool you. Gibson worked out a little jam in the first, then completely shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and one walk after the first.

2) Brian Dozier

Dozier homered in the second to tie the game, singled in the fourth, walked in the sixth and singled again in the eighth -- reaching base in all four plate appearances.

3) Miguel Sano

Sano invited trouble when he dropped a routine pop-up to allow the Red Sox to put the potential tying run on base in the eighth. But he had three base hits on the night, including a run-scoring double that put the Twins ahead to stay in the sixth.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam