Gonzalez arrives early to touch bases

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By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / February 10, 2011

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Adrian Gonzalez emerged from the clubhouse just after 11 a.m. yesterday carrying his first baseman’s mitt. He was ready for his first spring training workout with the Red Sox.

As historic moments go, it wasn’t much to remember. One of the few witnesses was Bruiser, an aging bulldog who is a fixture at the player development complex.

Gonzalez jogged over to Field 1 and played catch in the outfield with David Renfroe, a minor league third baseman. From there, he fielded some grounders at first base, then went through a series of running drills.

“It’s nice to be here,’’ Gonzalez said after shaking hands with some of his new teammates. He then retreated back to the clubhouse for two hours of strength training.

The spotlight will be blinding soon enough. For now, a low-key approach is fine with Gonzalez as he recovers from surgery to his right (non-throwing) shoulder. He hopes to start swinging a bat by March 1.

“I can’t give you a day,’’ he said. “All I know is I’ll be ready for Opening Day.’’

His surgeon, Dr. David Altchek, is pleased with the progress Gonzalez has made. After doing the bulk of his rehabilitation work in San Diego, Gonzalez reported early to Red Sox camp to get in synch with the team’s training staff.

“I would assume I’m ahead of schedule,’’ he said. “I just didn’t know if it’s a couple of days or a week. Workouts are normal now, not limited. I’m getting full range of motion back. I’m not holding anything back.

“I’m getting my work in. I’m getting ready for the season. I’m doing what I have to do to be 100 percent when the season starts.’’

The Sox acquired Gonzalez from San Diego Dec. 6, sending the Padres three top prospects and utilityman Eric Patterson. The deal was made without the Sox agreeing on a contract extension with Gonzalez, who is signed only through the end of this season.

According to a major league source, the sides have agreed on the parameters of an extension that will be announced after Opening Day to save the Sox from a bigger bite of baseball’s competitive-balance tax on high payrolls.

Gonzalez does not seem concerned.

“We don’t have any deadline or anything like that,’’ he said. “When I’m healthy and they see that I’m healthy and we all decide to sit down and talk about something, then that’s what we’ll do at that point.

“There’s no rush for anything right now. The main thing is for me to get healthy.’’

Gonzalez’s agent, John Boggs, is expected here around March 8 and presumably will discuss the situation with the Sox at that time.

There also were some less crucial matters to attend to. Gonzalez has a place to live in Boston, although he doesn’t quite know where, as his wife, Betsy, handled the details.

And in what will be big news for the jersey-wearing segment of Red Sox Nation, he decided on No. 28.

Gonzalez considered asking Mike Cameron for No. 23, the number he wore with the Padres. The two even discussed it. But with a new team will come a new number.

“I really didn’t want 23,’’ said Gonzalez. “It was a number that was given to me in San Diego. I never picked it or anything.’’

Gonzalez considered 29. Then he researched religious numerology and picked 28. The number, he said, represents God’s strength.

Now that he’s feeling healthy, has a place to crash, and a new number, Gonzalez is ready to start what could prove to be a memorable season.

“I’m very excited about playing on this team and for this organization,’’ he said. “But I’ve got to focus on being ready personally and then I can focus on putting it all together as a team.’’

Righthander Robert Coello was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for righthander Alfredo Aceves. Coello had a 4.76 earned average in six relief appearances last season . . . Daniel Bard arrived at camp and played catch with Jon Lester . . . According to members of the Japanese media, Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to make his first appearance today.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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