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Good contact made in Gonzalez talks

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / March 23, 2011

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Boggs, the San Diego-based agent for Adrian Gonzalez, said he would be “very surprised’’ if an agreement on a contract extension isn’t in place next month, and a meeting with Red Sox executives Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington yesterday gave him no reason to think otherwise.

Boggs, a third cousin of former Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs, said, “We sat down and discussed where Adrian’s at, and I think it’s going to be very positively in the direction of trying to get something done sometime in April.

“The thing was the health issue, where he’s being seen playing every day in a championship season, then they’ll have a degree of comfort, and that’s when we’ll get something done.’’

Epstein agreed with that characterization of the meeting.

“It built on the momentum from December,’’ Epstein said. “We will resume talks sometime in April once Adrian is back in the swing of things and playing every day.’’

Gonzalez has been ahead of schedule after having offseason labrum surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, and manager Terry Francona has said, at this stage, he is even better than the team thought.

“When you’re coming off an injury and you’re talking about significant money, there’s a sense of, ‘OK, this is a part of the rehabilitative process,’ seeing him in games and — prudently, probably, on their part — they just want to see him play back to back to back and see him into the season and say, ‘We’re good to go,’ ’’ said Boggs.

“And I don’t have any reservation about that, except if something horrible were to happen. We’re not going to be able to force them to do that. We’re under contract for this year.

“I would anticipate something around April. When in April, I don’t know. Could be middle or end. Those are the parameters we’re looking at. Could it go past that? Yeah, and we’d have to revisit a lot of things, but I don’t anticipate that at all.’’

Boggs said it was the first chat with Epstein since their meeting in December, when Gonzalez “walked away from their final offer.’’ Gonzalez was then willing to allow the health issue to resolve itself.

“That was the plan — to get here and see how he’s doing and ultimately go from there,’’ Boggs said. “There’s been great progress and they acknowledge it. Everything is going toward a goal of basically seeing him compete every day in a championship season.

“It wasn’t a meeting that was anything different, other than going over where we had left off and keeping the positive momentum going and feeling they’re going there and not have them say, ‘Hey, we’ve rethought this thing and going against what we initially set out to do,’ which would never happen. With Adrian, he’s a guy who knows what he wants and he’s pretty determined. And his word is good.

“I’ve known Adrian since he was in high school, and once he has an idea of what fairness is, I think he said it best — that he could be very wealthy playing for a team you don’t want to play for or you could play for a team you really want to play for.’’

Boggs reiterated that there are too many positives for a deal not to get done.

“You can always be surprised in life, but I would be very surprised. There’s very positive feelings on both sides. Very good relationships on both sides. I’ve dealt with Theo a lot, Larry [Lucchino] a lot. John Henry was the first owner Adrian played for [in Florida].’’

Boggs said there was never a deal in place, as had been reported.

“Unless you sign a UPC [uniform player contract], you’ve got nothing,’’ he said. “We knew there were caveats and contingencies, and we knew it wasn’t a hangnail, it was a shoulder.’’

The fact that Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder have not signed new deals has no bearing on Gonzalez, according to the agent. Boggs said Gonzalez always has known where he fit and what he was worth.

It seems that an apt comparison would be Mark Teixeira, a player the Sox weren’t able to sign; he went to the Yankees for an eight-year, $180 million deal.

Media reports have pegged the parameters of a Gonzalez deal at seven years, $154 million, and it will be somewhere in that ballpark.

The Sox traded three major prospects in pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and outfielder Reymond Fuentes, and they aren’t about to let Gonzalez go after giving up that type of talent.

Gonzalez was not in yesterday’s meeting and doesn’t seemed concerned about what’s to come.

“I’m sure they’ll touch base and at some point they’ll sit down and try to hash it out,’’ Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez seems to like his new environment and the prospect of hitting at Fenway Park.

“If he feels it’s fair financially, he’s good to go,’’ Boggs said. “He doesn’t have to break any records. He wants to play where he’s treated well and fairly, and where he knows he has a chance to win every year. This is where he wants to be.’’

Nick Cafardo can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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