Magadan: Gonzalez 'as good as it gets'

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Magadan: Gonzalez 'as good as it gets'

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Dave Magadan was Adrian Gonzalez's first hitting coach in the big leagues. Now, five years later, they're about to be reunited and Magadan can't wait.

"He's as good as it gets," said Magadan, the Red Sox hitting instructor, from his Florida home Saturday. "He was very advanced when I had him in San Diego and that was his first full year in the big leagues. He was very smooth, very smart. Even then, he had a real good feel for how he was going to get pitched."

At the time, in the spring of 2006, Magadan took Gonzalez's confidence and self-awareness the wrong way.

"I didn't say anything at the time," Magadan recalled, "but I remember thinking to myself: 'This guy thinks he's really smart.' I thought, 'Wait until he faces big league pitching.' But you know what? He was really smart. He was very advanced for a guy his age."

At the time, Gonzalez was not yet 24 and was ticketed for Triple A. But when incumbent first baseman Ryan Klesko elected to undergo shoulder surgery, Gonzalez stepped in as San Diego's everyday first baseman.

"He had a real good sense of his own swing," said Magadan, who was fired midway through the 2006 season. "He knew what makes a good hitter. In that way, he was very coachable. He could sit on pitches, and he had the discipline to swing at the pitch he was looking for.

"He was very advanced for a guy his age. I liked him from the get-go. Maybe he didn't open as many eyes right away because he hit the ball the other way so much and at his position, people expected him to pull the ball more. But he had the power the other way; he wasn't just hitting singles (to left field) -- he could hit the ball out."

From afar, Magadan admired how Gonzalez adapted to Petco Park, perhaps the least inviting ballpark in the big leagues for hitters.

"It got to the point where I think he could keep his head above water at Petco and do most of his damage on the road," said Magadan.

Indeed, over his career, in a breakdown that includes 59 games played with Texas in 2004 and 2005, Gonzalez has hit 107 homers on the road, compared to 61 at home; slugged .568 on the road and .440 at home; and compiled an .943 OPS away and .800 at home.

And now with the trade sending him to Boston, Gonzalez will go from one of the toughest hitter's ballparks to Fenway, one of the best.

"I think Fenway just plays right into what his strengths are," said Magadan. "He's got great power the other way. He can drive a pitch away and hit it out. He's got very good pull power, too; he's not a guy who just inside-outs the ball."

Gonzalez will be making a transition of another sort, too, going from San Diego, which made the postseason just once in his five seasons and where crowds are often modest, to Fenway, where expectations and fan involvement are far greater.

"He's got a good, even personality," said Magadan. "It's going to be different for him, but different in a good way. I know some guys struggle in Boston, but he's got that personality where he's got a passion for the game. I don't see it being a problem.

"There was a lot of pressure on him in San Diego, but it was a different kind of pressure. He was the big go-to guy in that lineup. Here, he's part of a deeper lineup and he doesn't have to be The Guy all the time."

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

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

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Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

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Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.