Acquired in August of 2012 in the blockbuster, nine-player trade with the Boston Red Sox, Adrian Gonzalez has been a steady force at first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A career .294 hitter, Gonzalez has helped stabilize the middle of the batting order and provided a veteran leadership in the clubhouse.
In his ninth season last year, Gonzalez played in 157 games, had a .293 batting average, hit 22 home runs and collected 100 RBIs. As instrumental as Gonzalez has been to the offense, he was equally important to the Guggenheim ownership group’s desire to create a new image. Under previous owner Frank McCourt, the Dodgers were dragged into a bankruptcy and the team was financially restricted in its efforts to improve the roster.
That quickly changed as the Gonzalez trade, which also netted the Dodgers Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto, tacked on over $250 million in player salaries. Gonzalez began his Major League career with the Texas Rangers, playing two years with the club before cementing himself as a professional hitter and real threat at the plate with the San Diego Padres over five seasons.
Gonzalez introduced himself in impressive fashion to the Dodger fans, hitting a home run in his first at-bat with the Boys in Blue:
Gonzalez’s home run power has declined in recent years, though at nine through 35 games this season, he is on pace to surpass 2013’s total of 22. The first basemen spoke of his early power surge and credited it to his shoulder feeling better, which has allowed for better extension and follow through on his swings.
Gonzalez effortlessly put together a 16-game hitting streak this season that included five home runs, four of which were hit in consecutive games. Thursday will mark the third consecutive year Gonzalez is playing in a game as a Dodger on his birthday — heading into tonight Gonzalez is a combined 3-for-5 with two doubles and one RBI in such games.
Dodgers Nation wishes the smooth-swinging left-hander a happy 32nd birthday!
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