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

Unfazed Gonzalez goes about business after trade to L.A.
August 28, 2012, 3:05 am
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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.