SEATTLE – There's no panic in Adrian Gonzalez, and that's one of the things that make him great for the Red Sox.
He's been as good as advertised all season at the plate, but there are some tiny little things that could be construed as concerns when it comes to his offense.
That seems like a pretty peculiar statement, given that the big Boston slugger is leading the American League in batting average (.350) and has turned on enough fastballs to show his quick-wristed power.
But Gonzalez has hit only 2 home runs since July 1, and only 1 in his last 29 games, and is hitting .250 (7-for-28) while managing only one RBI in his last seven games. That’s a fire cry from production the Red Sox have been getting from him all season.
Manager Terry Francona, however, isn't worried.
“Sometimes [home runs] come in bunches. Sometimes they don’t,” said Francona. “I think he was fighting this neck injury early in the year. But I think the good news as that he’s still such a great hitter that he can hurt teams in other ways.”
That was true Friday night, as he went 2-for-4 with a double in the Red Sox' 6-4 win over the Mariners.
“The nice thing from where I sit is that he’s not an all-or-nothing guy," said Francona. "He puts the bat on the ball and sprays the ball over the field. He’s just hitting singles right now. We got spoiled when we went though that one period [against Toronto in May] where he was hitting balls to left field with a lot of power. That was fun to watch, but I don’t think anybody really maintain that all season.”
Celtics Hall of Fame legend Bill Russell was visiting in the Red Sox dugout at Safeco Field prior to Friday night’s game. Boston Mayor Tom Menino also was in attendance after flying to the West Coast on Friday morning.
David Ortiz has homered four times in his last seven games, and is now only one home run away from recording his eighth consecutive 25-homer season with the Red Sox. Ortiz will move out of a tie with Hall of Famer Jim Rice, who had seven 25-homer seasons, on the Red Sox list and sit in sole possession of second place behind the 14 25-plus-homer seasons put together by Ted Williams during his career.
Jed Lowrie ended the longest homerless drought of his career at 44 games with his fifth-inning blast off Blake Beavans. It was his first home run since an April 20 game against the Oakland A’s that seems like it was six years ago.
Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning was the first sacrifice bunt by a Red Sox cleanup hitter since Ellis Burks did it on Aug. 30, 1990.
Mike Aviles recorded his first RBI for Boston in Friday night’s win. He was acquired from Kansas City at the trade deadline.
The J.D. Drew situation is quickly moving to a conclusion of some kind as the oft-injured right fielder took batting practice with the team Friday at Safeco Field and tested the strength of his injured left shoulder.
Drew will keep working out with his Red Sox teammates at Safeco through the weekend, and it’s expected that the player and team will re-evaluate at the end of the three-game series against the Mariners.
Don’t expect Drew to simply get activated and jump back onto the 25-man roster even if everything goes swimmingly through the weekend. It sounds like there may be a decision forthcoming when the team returns to Boston briefly next week.
Drew hasn’t played in a game since July 20 and would seem to need a minor-league rehab stint in order to regain his timing. Stay tuned to see what happens with Drew once he’s physically able to play.
The Sox have set up their starting rotation for next Tuesday's doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway, and it won’t include an outing for lefty Andrew Miller as originally anticipated. Instead Miller may make a start against the Royals in Kansas City next weekend, which would give one of Boston's other starters an extra day of rest.
Jon Lester and Erik Bedard will pitch the doubleheader against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, and John Lackey will pitch the final game of the series on Wednesday.
Miller hasn’t made a start since July 31 and a healthy Felix Doubront might be nipping at the lefty’s heels for a roster spot given his similar ability to start and come out of the bullpen.
“Miller is going to be inserted in there most likely in one of the games against the Royals,” said Francona. “[Pitching coach] Curt [Young] and I are kind of sifting through, and we want to use it to our advantage. If one of those guys goes really long in one game then there’s a bunch of scenarios. Say Lester or Lackey goes 120 [pitches] then we could insert [Miller] and with the days off it brings a lot of possibilities.”
Bobby Jenks finally made it to Boston’s minor-league complex in Fort Myers and has begun building up arm strength toward a return to the Sox roster. Jenks is slated to throw a bullpen on Tuesday and then will need to throw an additional three bullpens before he’s anywhere close to being placed again on the active roster. It’s looking more and more like Dan Wheeler is beginning to absorb some of those key innings expected to fall Jenks’ way when he signed his two-year, $12 million deal with the Sox.