Gonzalez hoping to play 162 for Sox


Gonzalez hoping to play 162 for Sox

By SeanMcAdam

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A day after making his Grapefruit League debut, Adrian Gonzalez took batting practice in Fort Myers and reported that his surgically repaired right shoulder felt "great.''

While his teammates traveled to Bradenton to face the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Sox gave Gonzalez a day out of the lineup to recover from his first game action.

"Batting practice today felt better today than it did Saturday and the day before, which is good,'' said Gonzalez. "Today was more of a strength day. I got some weights in. It felt good after everything we did.''

Asked if he felt any anxiety about how the shoulder would respond Sunday after his first game action of the spring Saturday, Gonzalez said: "The only anxiety I had was making sure I got here on time with the daylight saving time change.''

Gonzalez is scheduled to play again Monday night against the Yankees and said he hoped to get three at-bats after getting two at-bats Saturday.

"I'll have to talk Terry Francona into it,'' said Gonzalez. "We'll see how that goes. If you see a brawl in the dugout, you'll know what it's about.''

With the first test passed, Gonzalez's spring is more about "the everyday grind of it. Right now, I'm still on the 'day-in, day-off' mentality. It's when you start getting into the four, five, six days in a row, which I don't think will happen until the season. The fatigue kicks in at that point.''

The first baseman said the shoulder is strong, but there's some fatigue in the joint from time to time.

"I'm still not fully recovered,'' he said. "I'm good enough to play and all that, but as far as being 100 percent, it's not there yet . . . It's not about strength. It's about endurance or stamina. I get to a certain point where I take too many swings or swing real hard numerous amount of times, I feel the fatigue.

"It's not about strength. It's not about those kinds of things. Say I have to take an extra 20 swings in the cage to get my swing right -- right now, I wouldn't be able to do that because that would just wear it down. So right now, everything's real controlled.

"You only take this many swing here, this many swings there, this many swings before the game, then when the game starts, you take x amount of swings and that's it. It's not, 'Hey, I need to take an extra 30 swings to be ready.' If I go into the cage to get my swing right and 20 swings in, it doesn't feel good, oh well. You take that into the game. I don't have the ability to take another 20.''

It's unlikely that Gonzalez will play on consecutive days until late next week. Gonzalez, who has averaged more than 160 games over his last four seasons, said his goal is to play all 162 games.

"I'm a first baseman,'' said Gonzalez, smiling. "How much energy do you really put out there? I don't steal bases. I don't run fast. I play first base. As long as my legs can take it, I'm good and thank God, up until now, my legs have been good enough to take it.''

Gonzalez prefers to play as much as possible and said he's never asked a manager for a day off.

"I've gotten into an argument when he's tried to give me a day off,''said Gonzalez. "The times they've given me a day off, I'm really annoying in the dugout. So the next time, they're like, 'Let's just throw him in there so he's not annoying me.' ''

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

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.