Gonzalez Swinging Away
By Brian Phair
Just 4 months after undergoing shoulder surgery, the Boston Red Sox new prized possession is swinging a bat again. After being cleared by doctors to begin swinging, Adrian Gonzalez has hit off the tee 2 consecutive days without any issues. He has said on a few occasions that his shoulder feels great and that he feels no discomfort at all, even after taking 20 swings yesterday and 30 more this morning. According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Gonzo will either take swings tomorrow for a 3rd straight day, then take a day off, or take a day off tomorrow and then take more swings on Thursday. The Red Sox would prefer to take the cautious route and wait an extra day before swinging again. Given the team’s investment in the slugger, that option will likely be reality. (more after the jump)
The biggest factor helping Gonzo in Spring Training is that 6 weeks is almost too much time to get up to game speed for a hitter. That extended time is really for the pitching staff, so Gonzo knows that even if he takes longer to start swinging in the batter’s box, he will still have plenty of time to be ready for April 1st. In that same frame of mind, Red Sox management knows they can take it slow, even if there are no symptoms and things are progressing as planned, because of the built in cushion. Time is a nice luxury to have, especially when rehabbing.
The biggest test for Gonzo’s shoulder will be when he hits against live pitching, because before having the surgery to repair his torn labrum, swing-and-misses were painful, along with full extension. The only way to simulate those situations effectively is to put him in the batter’s box and let him take some hacks, missing a few along the way. If he feels 100% after he faces live competition, then he is essentially fully recovered and can really focus on getting his timing at the plate back and preparing for opening day. If he remains healthy all season, Gonzo will be able to put on a show for the Fenway faithful with his tremendous opposite-field power swing. The Green Monster seats are the place to be when Gonzo is at-bat in 2011.