The Zen-like simplicity of Adrian Gonzalez’s approach

Posted: April 11, 2015 at 1:54 am

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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers wanted to encourage as many of their players as possible to do their conditioning in the fabulously expensive new workout facilities at Dodger Stadium last winter, so they asked strength and conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel to spend his winter at the ballpark.

Adrian Gonzalez stopped by frequently and, by February, it showed. The big first baseman had a sleeker look and better mobility. Often the contrarian, Gonzalez says he doubts it has had anything to do with his fast start in 2015.

"Conditioning means zero in success on the field," Gonzalez said after mashing three home runs for the first time in his career in the Dodgers' 7-4 win over the San Diego Padres Wednesday night. "The conditioning is so you stay healthy, but it doesn't translate to on-field success."

In a way, that's about 90 percent of the battle in Gonzalez's case, though; over a 10-year major league career, he has proven that when healthy, he will produce with machine-like results. And with his 33rd birthday a month away, people could be forgiven for wondering if -- or, more accurately when -- the decline phase of Gonzalez's career will arrive.

He even referenced it himself in Andrew Friedman's introductory news conference when he asked the team's new president of baseball operations if he was looking for a younger, faster, stronger first baseman.

Friedman muttered "No" at the time and, after watching his first baseman's first three games, he would probably say "No," but sprinkle in an expletive or two. There have been a lot of dangerous hitters in baseball history. There have been a lot of fast starts in Aprils past, but until Wednesday, nothing like this. Gonzalez became the first hitter in baseball history to hit five home runs in his team's first three games, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Gonzalez's slugging percentage is 2.077, his OPS is 2.846. Sure, three games and all that, but these are absurdities.

Besides, Andrew Cashner is an imposing pitcher. He's a big, tall guy with a bushy beard and a fastball that creeps frighteningly close to 100 mph. But he's also apparently a bit stubborn, because he kept trying to stick that fastball low and inside to Gonzalez, despite what Gonzalez kept doing to them -- sending them soaring toward, and over, the right-field wall.

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The Zen-like simplicity of Adrian Gonzalez's approach

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April 11th, 2015 at 1:54 am

Posted in Zen