Gonzalez had a blast - up until the end
Adrian Gonzalez usually maintains his composure, in times good or bad.
The high-fives exchanged with David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis after Gonzalez’s three-run homer in the seventh inning Sunday were forceful, and Gonzalez gave the on-deck hitter, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, what looked like an elbow smash.
The shot to left field was the fourth homer of the season for Gonzalez. He had only one at Fenway Park this year and three over a span of 61 games dating to last season.
That the Red Sox lost to the Rays, 4-3, when Alfredo Aceves blew the save in the ninth inning certainly tempered how Gonzalez felt afterward. But he hopes the swing was one that will get him going.
“I keep having a consistent feel for two days,’’ Gonzalez said, describing how he kept his head down and stayed behind the changeup thrown by Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson. “I feel a lot better.’’
Gonzalez is hitting .269 with 26 RBIs through 47 games. He has hit safely in seven straight games with four extra-base hits and five RBIs.
Gonzalez also started in right field for the sixth time in eight games and committed his first error. It helped lead to the Rays scoring a run in the fourth inning.
Matt Joyce doubled down the line in right and Gonzalez played the ball well, but his throw back to the infield was wide and deflected off the glove of Dustin Pedroia.
That allowed Joyce to take third and he scored on a grounder to first base by Ben Zobrist. It proved to be an earned run when Luke Scott singled.
Gonzalez was working on fielding the ball in the corner on Saturday, taking balls off the bat of first base coach Alex Ochoa.
“I took 20 ground balls off the wall and all of them did something different,’’ Gonzalez said. “The thing is you can’t predict where a ball is going to go, so you have to learn to find a spot on the field where you need to be.’’
Manager Bobby Valentine is not entirely comfortable with using Gonzalez in right field and wrestles with when is the best point in the game to take him out or shift him back to first base.
Sunday, it came after the seventh inning.
“This is fluid,’’ Valentine said. “This isn’t a totally prepared situation. I’m just trying to react as I feel the game presents itself. I don’t know that there’s a rule of thumb here. It’s kind of a feel, I think. I wish there was a rule of thumb. I wish there was a history to go by. I wish there was a pattern or a situation that has presented itself in my experience that I could reach back on. I don’t have that. It’s pretty unique right now. Uncharted waters. It’s kind of fun.’’
Gonzalez has no problem staying in right field for the entire nine innings and told Valentine that before the game.
Outfielder Ryan Sweeney went through a full workout before the game and is likely to be activated before Monday’s game against the Tigers.
“I feel fine,’’ he said. “Ready to go.’’
Sweeney suffered a mild concussion making a diving catch in Philadelphia May 19 and was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list a few days later when his symptoms persisted.
Sweeney was hitting .311 and has played all three outfield positions. His return would give Valentine much more palatable options in the outfield.
Valentine, a record-setting running back during his high school days in Connecticut, was asked if he ever played with a concussion and he’s sure he did.
“I went into the wrong huddle and [stuff] like that,’’ he said. “I was concussed. I kind of liked it. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to like those things.’’
Valentine acknowledged that all sports are much more cognizant of brain injuries now.
“It was a different world,’’ he said.
Daisuke Matsuzaka is set to start for Triple A Pawtucket Thursday against Norfolk at McCoy Stadium.
The righthander threw five scoreless innings in his latest rehabilitation start Saturday. Valentine said he wasn’t sure how many starts Matsuzaka would need as he works his way back from elbow and neck injuries.
Darnell McDonald (oblique) went 0 for 4 in his second start for Pawtucket Sunday and is scheduled for another Monday.
Ryan Kalish (left shoulder) started in center field for Single A Salem in his second rehab game and went 1 for 4.
Youkilis hot at plate
Kevin Youkilis is 6 for 16 in five games since coming off the disabled list . . . Catching instructor and bullpen coach Gary Tuck has been away from the team for nearly two weeks for what the Sox are saying is a family matter . . . B.J. Upton of the Rays ran his hit streak to a career-best 10 games with a single in the sixth . . . One of Valentine’s strengths is getting the most out of his bench. Saturday marked the third time that Valentine sent up a pinch hitter who produced a walkoff home run. Bernard Gilkey did it for the Mets against the Expos in 1997. Jim Tatum had one for the Mets against the Astros in 1998, then Saltalamacchia won the game Saturday night . . . It was New Hampshire Day at Fenway Park. The Sox recognized 35 students who received $1,000 scholarships from the team. The honor guard for the national anthem was from the Hanover, N.H., Fire Department.