Padres manager Bud Black met with reporters just a few minutes ago and spoke about Adrian Gonzalez.
I asked him how he thought the slugging first baseman would do in a different, more pressurized environment.
“He understands the game. He understands all that goes with along with it. He understands what goes along with being the type of player he is, that All-Star type player. He gets all that. He’s going to do fine. I suspect he’ll thrive on it,” Black said. “Boston is a very unique place to play in a very positive way and I think a player like Gonzo will enjoy that.”
Black also pointed out that Gonzalez had a big 2010 season (.298/.393/.511) despite a sore right shoulder, which has since been repaired surgically.
“It wasn’t the same type of pain every day. Some days were better than others and you could tell on certain days where the stroke was different based on how his shoulder was. It affected him on certain pitches. But that shouldn’t be a problem now. The surgery went well. It was what they expected when they went in there,” Black said. “If anything, he should be better and he was pretty good last year.”
More from Black:
“First and foremost (he’s) a talented player. You look at the all-around game, I’ve said it many times, both sides. Great defender, Gold Glove, makes plays on defense with his arm. Look at the other side, the offense. Great, fluid swing. Great hand-eye coordination. Disciplined hitter. All-field power. Hits the ball from line to line. Tough to pitch to, tough to defend. He can manipulate the bat. Very good, very good baseball player when you all it all up. Great instincts, good awareness of the game. Plays the game under control, poised. Nothing fazes him.”
More Q&A with Black:
Q. Adrian’s ability to let the ball get deep on him and still be able to hit it the other way, how unique is that, and just the power to all fields, especially going to left?
Black: “It goes back to the hand-eye coordination, his natural stroke is geared towards the center of the diamond or even left-center.
“And his ability to do great work with his hands, to get the barrel of the bat on certain pitches, he doesn’t have a one-track swing like you find in some players. But his bat manipulation is tremendous, one of the best I’ve seen. For a guy that can hit pitches down and away, that can hit pitches down and in, and his ability to get his hands up in and, up and away. He can hit all pitches. That’s what makes him tough to pitch to.”
Q. Just another sign of his maturity?
Black: “If you look back over my four years here, this year he hit them well, the year before, not so well, the year before, okay. But he has a great understanding of hitting. He’s a tremendous student of hitting. He takes just the science of hitting just very seriously. Great studier of pitchers, a lot of time on videotape. He goes about it the right way. And this year, I noticed a great deal of tape was watching his left-hand pitching.”
Q. Is there anything specifically that he adjusted to or changed?
Black: “If anything, I think he might have stayed on the ball a little bit more and thought more left field. It was primarily the left-handed pitcher is going to pitch the left-handed hitter away. I think Gonzo was looking to drive the ball against the lefty the other way and I think he did a much better job of laying off the breaking ball down and away off the plate.
“You know, he took his walks again this year, where, I think, there were times during the course of the last couple of years where, because of his — what he felt his responsibility, to be a run producer, maybe expanded the zone a little bit, more than what he should. But this year, really selective. Really did a great job.”