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.''