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Gonzalez remains patient

He says he’s ready, awaits doctor’s OK

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By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / February 18, 2011

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — As his new teammates took batting practice yesterday, Adrian Gonzalez stood in the outfield and talked hitting with David Ortiz and Carl Crawford.

Ortiz and Crawford eventually took their turns in the cage, but Gonzalez could not, as he is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. That could change next week.

Gonzalez is setting up a meeting with his surgeon, Mets team physician David Altchek, and hopes to be cleared to start swinging a bat. He is approximately a week of ahead of schedule.

“I’m definitely in no rush,’’ said Gonzalez. “I want to get swinging already, but it’s a process and you don’t want to get too ahead of anything. It’s good for me just to be able to hang out and get to know the guys. Just take a step back and watch everybody else.’’

Gonzalez, who is lefthanded, is throwing and participating in all defensive drills as he awaits clearance to hit.

“Zero limitations,’’ he said. “I’m exactly where I need to be at this point post-surgery. Everything is going as planned and it feels great. I know I could swing today if I wanted to.’’

But Altchek must first give the nod.

“I don’t think it’s anything specific,’’ said Gonzalez. “He just needs to see that I’m good, for the most part. That’s the best way to put it. If you do the surgery, you want to sign off on it before you let the guy swing.

“It shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes once he sees me. But I still have to see him.’’

Gonzalez said the injury held down his power numbers last season and he focused instead on putting the ball in play. Still, he managed 33 doubles and 31 home runs for the San Diego Padres.

“In a way, it was a blessing in disguise,’’ he said. “It made me a better hitter. I take what I learned from last year and apply it to when I’m healthy.’’

As Gonzalez settles in, both he and general manager Theo Epstein indicated there would be little trouble coming together on a contract extension.

“There will be a time for that,’’ said Epstein. “It was well-documented that we had a lot of conversations during the window that led up to the trade.

“As we said at the time, we developed a lot of mutual trust and understanding, mutual good faith, that when the time is right, both sides will be able to sit down and be fair with each other and hopefully work something out.’’

Said Gonzalez, “We don’t have any set deadlines. Hopefully we can get it done sooner than later. From my end, I want to show them I’m healthy and playing 100 percent.’’

The Sox are believed to have the parameters of a seven-year deal in place with Gonzalez, one that would pay him at least $22 million a year.

Gonzalez said he has been paying little attention to the talks between Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals, which broke off Wednesday.

“He’s him and I’m me,’’ said Gonzalez. “For the most part, I feel he’s the best player in the game, so you can’t really compare yourself to him.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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