Padres have nothing but praise
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Padres, better than anybody else, know what kind of player the Red Sox are getting in Adrian Gonzalez.
“I think he’s going to be a monster at Fenway Park,’’ San Diego general manager Jed Hoyer said yesterday. “They’ve got themselves a great player. A player we certainly wish we could have kept. But I think Red Sox fans will certainly enjoy watching him play for a long time.’’
The only thing the Padres didn’t like about Gonzalez was their inability to afford him. The 28-year-old first baseman was a star for five seasons, a force at the plate, and a two-time Gold Glove winner.
Padres manager Bud Black expects nothing to change in Boston. If anything, he believes Gonzalez could be even better.
“He understands the game [and] 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 during the first day of the winter meetings. “Boston is a very unique place to play in a very positive way and I think a player like Gonzo will enjoy that.’’
Gonzalez is a career .267 hitter at spacious Petco Park in San Diego with only 57 home runs in 1,410 at-bats. On the road, over 1,663 at-bats, he has hit .303 with 107 home runs. Now he is moving to a park much more conducive to his inside-out lefthanded swing.
A study of the balls Gonzalez hit at Petco Park last year showed that at least 15 outs would have been hits at Fenway Park, most for extra bases.
“I think he’s going to be unbelievable in Fenway Park,’’ said Hoyer, who until last year was Boston’s assistant GM. “He hit so many fly balls the other way, so many times it just died kind of helplessly before the warning track in Petco Park.’’
Added Black: “Boston should be favorable to him because he does have opposite-field power and he does have the ability to hit the ball in the air straight to center field. A lot of his home runs in San Diego were fly balls to left. So with Fenway, I can see just like Petco, balls going all over the place, straightaway center, he can hook the ball down the line, he can hit the ball off the Wall.’’
That goes beyond physical skill, according to Black.
“[Gonzalez] takes just the science of hitting just very seriously. Great student of pitchers, a lot of time on videotape,’’ the manager said. “He goes about it the right way. And this year, I noticed a great deal of tape was watching lefthanded pitching.’’
Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron played with Gonzalez in San Diego from 2006-07. Gonzalez, he said, is almost a perfect acquisition for the Sox.
“The guy is an all-around good player and he’s going to make a big difference for us,’’ Cameron said by telephone from his home in Georgia. “He plays hard and he plays every day and he delivers. People are going to love him.’’
And the timing works out well, too.
“Now AG gets all winter and spring training to settle in and that’s important,’’ Cameron said. “Plus we open up on the road. So by the time we get to Boston and he’s dealing with the expectations, he’ll have some games under his belt.’’
Gonzalez wore No. 23 in San Diego. But the jersey he wore at yesterday’s press conference had no number. Cameron owns 23 for now.
“I have 15 years in this league,’’ Cameron said. “They can’t just take it from me.’’
But Cameron is willing to discuss a trade. He has worn 44 in the past and would take that again if Gonzalez wants 23.
“He’s going to have 160 million ways to make me happy,’’ Cameron said with a laugh. “No, that’s not me. I’ll have him make a little donation to the Boys & Girls Club. It will all work out.’’