Marlins closer Heath Bell knows that his former teammate is stuck in an offensive rut. He also knows that Adrian Gonzalez will bounce back, although it might take some time.
“He’s not one of those guys who goes on a quick run,” said Bell, who played with Gonzalez for four seasons with the Padres from 2007-2010. “He can have some good games, but he’s a longevity guy. By the end of the year, you’re going to see that he’ll be fine.
“It’s now how you start a race, it’s how you finish, and I think Adrian knows that.”
Despite being tied for the AL lead with 22 doubles, Gonzalez has, by all accounts, experienced a drop in his productivity at the plate. Over his past 10 games, Gonzalez is 4 for 32. Three of those hits came against Miami on June 13, and he hasn’t had an extra-base hit since June 8. So far in 2012, Gonzalez is sporting a .257 batting average and a .708 OPS. Both are his lowest single-season totals since 2005.
“For most, I think it would be a solid year,” Bell said. “But he knows he’s a .300 hitter and he’s going to hit 30 home runs a year and drive in 100 runs and walk close to 100 times. But we can’t all be studs every single year. Once in a while, you’re going to have a bad year.
“Even Hall of Famers had bad years here and there. He’s one of those guys with the potential to be a Hall of Famer if he keeps putting up the numbers he does.”
Bell offered up no excuses for Gonzalez’s hitting, but said that he’s handling the slump fine. When the Sox were in Miami earlier this month, the two chatted about how the game has evolved since their time together in San Diego.
“Guys are throwing different pitches, and they throw harder now, just about everybody throws really hard,” Bell said. “There’s no breathers, everyone on the pitching staff is a No. 1 or a No. 2, there’s not too many pitching staffs that have a 4 or a 5 guy, or their 4 or 5 guy is a young stud who maybe doesn’t have the experience but has wicked stuff.”
As far as the criticism Gonzalez has received, Bell pointed to the recent birth of Gonzalez’s daughter, Brianna, as a point of escape.
“He hasn’t seemed too frustrated at all, he’s just plugging along,” Bell said. “He’ll always go home to his wife and daughter. He just wants to be a good husband and a good father.”