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Gonzalez 'comfortable' after six ABs in minor league game

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  March 23, 2011 05:17 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. That Adrian Gonzalez's health and well-being is important to the Red Sox was evident by the people gathered around the backstop to watch him play in a Triple A game at the minor league complex earlier this afternoon.

Theo Epstein was there with his top lieutenant, Ben Cherington. Terry Francona stopped by on his day off and was standing with third base coach Tim Bogar. Head athletic trainer Mike Reinold checked with Gonzalez after each of his six at-bats to make sure his surgically repaired right shoulder was holding up.

John Boggs, Gonzalez's agent, watched closely, as did reporters from the Globe, Herald, Providence Journal, Springfield Republican, NESN, MLB.com, CSNNE.com, and WEEI.com.

"It went well," Gonzalez after going 3 for 6 with an RBI and a run scored against the Durham Bulls (Rays). "The shoulder has been good."

Here's how the at-bats went:

Facing righthander Richard De Los Santos:

Grounder to third on a 2-2 pitch.

Grounded into 4-6-3 double play on a 1-2 pitch

Single to center on the first pitch.

Fly ball to center on an 0-2 pitch

Facing righthander Jeremy Hall:

Single to left on an 0-2 pitch. The ball was ripped into the corner and Gonzalez thought about second before going back to first.

Single to center on the first pitch.

Gonzalez was the DH and batted third in every inning. They're pretty loose with the rules in minor league games.

"For me it was more of getting my timing down," he said. "The first couple of days [since his return], I was just hitting, just looking for a fastball. For the last couple of days, I've been actually trying to have at-bats. It hasn't gone too well. It was good to be able to go out there and try and have some at-bats and kind of mix it up, be aggressive and all that. It felt good."

"It makes me feel a lot more comfortable, getting that timing down and just get a little more repetition so you can start playing better."

Gonzalez is 2 for 12 with two walks in six major league games.

"I've been seeing the ball great as far as seeing it out of the [pitcher's] hand, seeing it ball or strike. But when it comes to seeing a pitch when I'm swinging, it wasn't clicking," he said. "I really don't care about results. The results really don't matter in spring training. It's being able to see a strike and take a good swing at a strike with the right timing and all of that stuff. It hasn't been there quite, but today I felt a lot better."

The Red Sox have seven exhibition games remaining before Opening Day. The plan is for Gonzalez to play in five of them. He will skip only tomorrow's game in Jupiter against Florida and Sunday's game in Sarasota against Baltimore.

That should get him another 15 or so plate appearances. Add it up and he'll have roughly 40 plate appearances under his belt before stepping in against C.J. Wilson on April 1.

"I should be fine," he said.

Gonzalez is looking forward to being at the center of what should be a potent lineup.

"The potential is unbelievable. You have a very strong one through nine and guys that are going to be platooning are still guys who would start on most teams," he said. "It's great to be in a lineup like that because you know you're going to have days when you hit six times and that can only be good for you."

As for the rest of his transition, that has been smooth.

"It's been great. It's been a great time. Guys are unbelievable. Teammates are great and everybody around has been awesome," he said.

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