Gonzalez's life much different in Boston

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Gonzalez's life much different in Boston

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BOSTON -- Some three months into his first regular season with the Red Sox, Adrian Gonzalez has adjusted to life in Boston and in the American League.

"I would say the games are longer,'' he said, "and there's a lot more runs scored here at Fenway (comapred to cavernous Petco Park).''

Of course, Gonzalez has had something to do with the longer games and the additional runs. After Monday night's 3-for-5 performance in the Red Sox' 14-5 thrashing of his former team, the Padres, he leads the major leagues in batting average (.353), RBI (67), total bases (180), extra-base hits (43) and doubles (25).

Strategy is different between the leagues, with more "small ball'' and bunts utilized in the National League.

"The game itself is different between the leagues,'' he said. "In the National League, you've got the pitcher, the bunt situations . . . there's a lot of different aspects.''

Off the field, of course, there are huge differences.

"The atmposhere at Fenway, it's always a packed crowd,'' he said. "I think off the field, walking around town, it's pretty similar between San Diego and here. The fans are great in both places. The biggest difference is that here, it's sold-out every night and Red Sox Nation is a lot greater on the road as well.''

Gonzalez said he tries not to "focus on the stuff outside the lines. That's something that has definitely helped me. I've always said I just answer the questions that are asked and go about it. I don't look into other things.''

"I think he has enjoyed the intensity of playing here,'' said manager Terry Francona. "I think that's what we certainly hope when we get players. Quite honestly, that's not always the case. This is a little bit different place to play.''

In the field, Gonzalez finds some of his talents wasted since the A.L. has far fewer bunt situations. Gonzalez always took pride in being an "aggressive first baseman,'' who could field bunts and throw to cut down the lead runner. In the A.L., he gets few opportunties to do that.

At the plate, he's found Fenway to his liking -- his wall-ball, RBI double in the seventh Monday night, which increased Boston's lead at the time to 5-3, would have been a routine fly to left in Petco -- though he insists he hasn't varied his approach.

"This is a definitely a way better place to hit than Petco,'' he acknowledged. "That helps a lot with confidence when you go to the plate . . . But I don't focus on the stadium; I just focus on having a good at-bat. When I go up to the plate here, I'm not looking to hit The Wall. I just have my approach and that's something when I came into the league that I didn't have.

"But I learned over my five years in San Diego that you don't set your mentality to the stadium, you set it to the pitcher. Now that I'm here, I just stay with that.''

On Monday, Gonzalez had a chance to see some old friends with the Padres. He had lunch with a few ex-teammates -- Chase Headley, Will Venable and Nick Hundley -- and walked to the ballpark.

"Now,'' he said, "it's about playing the game.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

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Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

The Adam Jones-Yadier Molina verbal skirmish is as predictable as it is annoying.

Was every cultural nuance for the 16 World Baseball Classic teams explained in a booklet the players had to memorize before the tournament?

No? Then it’s amazing there weren’t more moments like this.

Jones, the Orioles outfielder, said Team USA's championship game win over Puerto Rico was motivated by Puerto Rico's choice to plan a post-tournament parade for the team before the final game.

As Jones and his teammates know, parades in pro sports are for championship teams. Red Sox fans are likely aware of this.

As Jones and his teammates know, discussing a parade before a title is secured suggests overconfidence. Rex Ryan fans are likely aware of this.

After an 8-0 win for the U.S., Jones revealed the parade was used as bulletin-board material.

"Before the game, we got a note that there was some championship shirts made -- we didn't make 'em -- and a flight [arranged],” Jones said. “That didn't sit well with us. And a parade -- it didn't sit well with us."

But apparently, Jones didn't know the full context of the parade. It was reportedly planned regardless of whether Puerto Rico won.

One Team USA teammate of Jones whom CSNNE spoke with didn't believe that, however.

"It was called a champions parade that got turned into a celebration parade once they lost," the player said. "I think they just don't like getting called out by Jones, but all Jones did was tell exactly what happened."

Jones’ comments weren’t received well.

Puerto Rico's going through a trying time, a recession, and the entire island rallied behind the team.

“Adam Jones . . . is talking about things he doesn't know about," Molina told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. "He really has to get informed because he shouldn't have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made.”

No one should be upset Jones explained what he was thinking.

Jones actually asked MLB Network host Greg Amsinger, “Should I tell the truth?”

Yes. It’s better than lying.

Look at the reactions across the WBC: the bat flips, the raw emotion. Honesty conveyed via body language.

People in the U.S. are starting to accept and crave those reactions. The WBC helped promote a basic idea: let people be themselves.

Jones said what was on his mind. We can’t celebrate bat flips and then say Jones should keep his mouth shut.

But there's an unreasonable expectation being placed on Jones here.

He heard about a parade -- which is to say, a subject he wouldn't normally think twice about or investigate before a championship baseball game.

Plus, it gave him motivation.

Why is Jones, or anyone with Team USA, more responsible for gaining an advance understanding of Puerto Rico’s parade-planning conventions -- we're talking about parade planning! -- than Puerto Rico is responsible for keeping U.S. norms in mind when making and/or talking about those plans?

No one involved here was thinking about the other’s perception or expectation. It's impossible to always do so.

But that’s how these moments develop: what’s obvious to one party is outlandish to the other.

Now Molina, Puerto Rico's catcher, wants an apology.

"He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people," Molina told ESPN. "Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn't know what this means to [our] people."

Jones can clear the air with an apology, but he doesn't owe one. And he definitely doesn't owe one after Molina took it a step further.

"I'm sending a message to [Jones], saying, 'Look at this, right now you're in spring training working out, and we're with our people, with our silver medals,' " Molina said. "You're in spring training and you're working . . . you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don't know what it means.”

Team USA had no parade. Manager Jim Leyland made clear how the U.S. was celebrating, by recognizing those serving the country.

The silver lining here is how much attention the WBC has drawn, and how much conversation it can drive. People care, a great sign for the sport -- and its potential to foster better understanding across cultures.

Internationally, the sport is on parade.

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

The angst surrounding the David Price- and (possibly) Drew Pomeranz-less Red Sox starting rotation may have eased a little -- or a lot -- on Thursday.

Steven Wright extended his string of scoreless spring-training innings to 9 1/3 by blanking the Pirates for 4 1/3 innings in his third spring-traing start, leading the Sox to a 10-7 victory over the Pirates at SkyBlue Park.

Red Sox-Pirates box score

Wright allowed two hits -- the only two hits he's allowed this spring -- with one walk and three strikeouts.

Several of his pitching brethren, notably Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr., didn't fare nearly as well. (See box score above.) But the Sox -- using what may be their regular-season batting order for the first time -- bailed them out with a 16-hit attack, led by Dustin Pedroia (3-for-3, now hitting ,500 for the spring). Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and, yes, Pablo Sandoval each added two hits. Sandoval also drove in three runs and is now hitting .362.

Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 in his return to the Sox from the World Baseball Classic.