Gonzalez homers in the midst of struggles

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Gonzalez homers in the midst of struggles

BOSTON With his three-run, go-ahead home run in the seventh inning, Adrian Gonzalez was destined to be the star of Sundays game.

That was until Sean Rodriguezs two-run, go-ahead home run off Alfredo Aceves in the ninth inning proved to be the game winner, as the Rays beat the Red Sox, 4-3, at Fenway Park.

The home run was Gonzalezs only hit in four at-bats in the game. While it gave him a seven-game hitting streak, a season high, Gonzalez has been mired in a slump for his standards.

Since going 2-for-4 against the Indians on May 13, Gonzalez has had more than one hit in a game just once, on May 20 in Philadelphia.

In 13 games since May 14, Gonzalez is 10-for-49 (.204) with three doubles, two home runs, seven RBI, two walks, and 14 strikeouts.

If I have a good game plan and Im able to execute it, with the swing Ive got I should be able to have success, Gonzalez said. Ive just got to game plan better.

As he did in the seventh. The home run just his fourth of the season and second at Fenway off Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson Sunday, into the first row of seats in the Monsters left field corner could be a sign that he is rebounding.

David Ortiz walked to lead off the seventh with Kevin Youkilis on with a single to set the stage for Gonzalezs home run on a 1-0 changeup.

"That was huge. That was huge, Ortiz said of Gonzalezs home run. Especially against Hellickson. He don't give you anything man. He tries to hit his spot always, otherwise, you've got to chase something out of the strike zone. That's what makes him so good."

Gonzalez entered the game just 2-for-14 (.143) with a home run and four RBI against the Rays starter. Hellickson knew almost immediately Gonzalezs ball was gone.

"I thought I made a pretty good pitch to Gonzalez, but he got it up, Hellickson said. I thought it was gone. He put a good swing on it."

"It was big, Valentine said. It put us ahead. If he gets on a roll, we could let him carry us for a little while. It would be good to see him do that."

Gonzalez started the last two games and six of the last eight games in right field. He entered this season with just three games in the outfield, all in right field. But had appeared in the outfield in an American League park just once prior to 2012 on Sept. 30, 2005, while with Texas against the Angels.

Before the game, Valentine said he had no reservations about putting Gonzalez in right field for an afternoon game.

On Saturday, though, in a bit of a head-scratching move, he took Gonzalez out for pinch-runner Che-Hsuan Lin in the sixth inning of a scoreless game for defensive reasons. In the eighth inning on Sunday, though, Valentine again subbed Lin for Gonzalez. This time, however, Valentine moved Gonzalez to first base, with Kevin Youkilis, who started at first, over to third, and Will Middlebrooks coming out of the game.

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

Apparently, the Red Sox couldn’t hold onto the best leader in the world. And the best leader in the world has no idea how to housebreak his puppy.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was given the top spot on a list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders," published by Fortune on Thursday morning.

The potential for silly takeaways from Epstein’s placement on the list -- and his response to it in a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney -- are amusing, if not astounding.

Wait, Epstein doesn’t think baseball is the most important thing in the world?

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein told Olney. "That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Zobrist, of course, had the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians.

As Fortune described it, the list of leaders is meant to include those “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same” across business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

Epstein certainly did help transform the baseball world.

“In the fall of 2016, as partisan distrust and division reached abysmal depths, fascination with the Chicago Cubs became that all-too-rare phenomenon that united America,” his blurb on the list begins.

That’s fair. But, if you scroll down the list: Pope Francis is No. 3. Angela Merkel is No. 10 and LeBron James is No. 11.

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Three players are tied for the Red Sox' lead in home runs in Florida. Only two of them will be with the team come Opening Day.

The other may be the starting first baseman a year from now.

Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Sam Travis have all gone deep three times this Grapefruit League season.

Coming back from surgery on his left ACL, Travis has yet to play in the majors. But he easily could later this year.

In a perfect world, though, the 23-year-old spends 2017 at Triple-A Pawtucket. He needs to prove he can consistently hit off-speed pitches.

A right-handed hitting first baseman who played college ball with Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs, Travis already crushes fastballs.

He carries himself like a stereotypical masher, too.

Travis rocks an unbuttoned jersey with no undershirt. No batting gloves. A grip-it-and-rip-it approach and Mike Napoli vibe.

But, don't get too caught up in the image.

"I mean, are you essentially asking like, do I still like have a plan?" Travis said when approached about his reputation.

No, because everyone has a plan. It's a question of how his is formulated, what matters to him. Because it can't always be as simple as see ball, hit ball. And it isn't.

"I definitely watch video. Everyone watches video," Travis said. "You kind of need to watch video when you get to this stage . . . You're in the box, you don't really want to think at all. That's what practice is for. But yeah, I'm definitely working on stuff.

"Just because I don't wear batting gloves doesn't mean I'm just going out there -- I definitely still got an idea what I'm trying to do."

Travis said he tried batting gloves once in high school and they just didn't feel right. So he takes hacks with a 34-inch bat with no frills..

But even when hitters say they don't think at the plate, they do.

If you're up 2-and-0, the thought has to cross your mind: fastball?

"I mean, yeah, you definitely are talking to yourself," Travis said. "But you don't want to get too far into your own thoughts because then that's when you get in trouble."

Slugging involves calculating.

Travis will look at scouting reports, but they're not his end-all be-all. The written ones, anyway. He keeps others in his head.

"I like to know what pitches [an opponent] has, which way pitches are going to move," Travis said. "But you know, you find that out from other players, and of course scouting reports and video. But the best experience is when you're actually in there, when you actually see it first hand.

"I remember everybody."

Video can be used to break down one's own swing, too. But that's not Travis. Tinkering's not his bag.

In part, that's because he's always had a simple approach mechanically.

"I don't really take much of a stride or anything. I kind of just pick it up and put it down," Travis said. "I've always been the guy that can make an adjustment pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat depending on what the pitcher is, it just goes with like timing and stuff."

Usually, somewhere along the way -- in the professional or amateur chain -- a coach will try to change a player's swing. Travis said that wasn't the case for him, though.

"No. Not really," Travis said. "Everyone's still gonna have minor adjustments, it's just how the game works. You know, you're going to put a bad swing on the ball. But as long as you recognize it and get right back to where you are . . .

"I've always been a guy who believes less movement, the better it is. That's my own personal opinion. Whatever works for people, that's what they're going to do."

Sometimes, that means loosening a few buttons and just letting it rip.

After watching a little video before the game.