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Gonzalez preaches patience

Slugger is hitting a rut against Rays

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / September 18, 2011

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After the Red Sox suffered a staggering 4-3 loss yesterday to the Rays, it was apparent the team was pressing to make something happen.

Adrian Gonzalez, most of all.

The first baseman, who had been such a catalyst when the Sox stumbled out of the blocks at the beginning of the season, tried to do the same as the team desperately attempted to hang on in the wild-card race.

Gonzalez was stymied again by Tampa’s tough pitching staff, going 0 for 2 with two strikeouts and a pair of walks.

In Tampa’s three-game sweep last weekend at Tropicana Field, Gonzalez hit .111, going 1 for 9 with a home run, 2 RBIs, and 3 walks. He also struck out twice.

After yesterday’s lackluster effort, Gonzalez is 0 for 8 with 1 RBI, 3 walks and 2 strikeouts in this four-game series.

Asked if his struggles, and that of the team vs. the Rays, was linked to execution against Tampa’s pitching, Gonzalez replied, “Execution on both ends.’’

“We are - I shouldn’t say, ‘We are,’ ’’ Gonzalez said, stopping in mid-sentence to correct himself. “But personally, I’m swinging at pitches I shouldn’t be swinging at. I’m not mechanically right and chasing pitches down.

“I could’ve walked more in the series so far, but I was just being overaggressive and trying to make things happen instead of taking a walk.’’

Gonzalez said his struggles were not linked to issues with his surgically repaired right shoulder, which hampered him last season when he was with the San Diego Padres.

Gonzalez still managed to hit .294 over his last 31 games of the season, going 30 for 102 with 11 runs, 7 doubles, 4 homers, and 14 RBIs.

Asked how he was feeling, physically, Gonzalez replied, “Fine, it’s the end of the year.’’

However, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted during yesterday’s game: “AGon told me surgically repaired right shoulder weak, tired this late in the season. Costing him oppo power. Last HR to LF: 8/25.’’

When asked if his right shoulder was indeed bothering him, Gonzalez said, flatly, “I’m not talking about that.’’

His numbers this month are telling, though.

Over his last eight games, Gonzalez is hitting .162 (4 for 24) with 3 runs, 2 homers, 5 RBIs, 6 strikeouts, and 7 walks.

This time last year, over a similar eight-game stretch with a right shoulder in need of end-of-season surgery, Gonzalez hit .346 (9 for 26) with 5 runs, 3 doubles, 2 homers, 7 RBIs, 9 walks (4 intentional), and 3 strikeouts.

Asked why the Red Sox have struggled to generate offense vs. the Rays, who have won seven of their last eight against Boston by a combined score of 49-22, Gonzalez offered a simple explanation.

“We’re going after pitches out of the zone,’’ he said. “We could walk 20 times a game if we wanted to, but we’re being overaggressive and I’m talking more personally than as a team.’’

But the level of difficulty will likely increase this afternoon when the Red Sox face David Price, Tampa Bay’s ace.

“I think tomorrow is different because it’s Price on the mound,’’ Gonzalez said, “and he’s more aggressive in the strike zone.’’

Which no doubt will pose another pressing concern for Gonzalez and the Red Sox.

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