He's not that bad, after all.
Adrian Gonzalez has now spent eight games in right field. During that span the Red Sox are 6-2. He has had nine total chances and carries a zone rating of 8.00 (which is better than both Daniel Nava and Cody Ross).
In his four games at Fenway Park, he has only made one miscue -- coming on a throwing error in which he overshot cut-off man Dustin Pedroia.
In all, there appears to be a benefit to continuing this experiment.
When playing right field, Gonzalez is hitting .310 (9-for-29) with an OPS of .793. Not out of this world, but solid considering there has to be some level of distraction in attempting to prepare for his fielding endeavor.
"I'm a person that needs to be prepared 100 percent for anything," he explained. "Playing first base, that comes easy for me. I've been doing that my whole life. I can take 20 ground balls and that's enough. Where out there I need constant repetition so when the game comes I know I've put in the work so I can just let it happen. But I need to put in the work, because if not I'm not going to be prepared.
"You need to see topspin ball. You need to backspin ball. Today the ball was carrying. So there were a couple of balls in BP where I think I'm camped and the ball is another 10 feet back. You have to know what the ball is doing. So many more things come into play when you're out there. I'm not as experienced."
There maneuver also seems to have benefited Gonzalez' replacement at first base when the switch is made, Kevin Youkilis, who is hitting .350 with an OPS of 1.059 in the seven games he has returned to first.
But what makes it all work -- and will continue to make it work -- is the confidence the Red Sox are siphoning from watching Gonzalez play right field.
He has made two what could be classified as above-average plays -- coming in Philadelphia and Baltimore -- while handling each of the balls hit into the treacherous Fenway Park corner.
Perhaps the only mistake he has made was the errant throw, which he explained as a combination of rushing and executing an improper arm angle.
And while some would jump on Gonzalez for not coming up with Miguel Cabrera's pop-up down the right-field line in the seventh inning Wednesday night, by all accounts it would have been considered an above-average play for most outfielders.
"They had me playing deep because you don't want to give up a double and have them score two runs. So I'm already playing pretty close to the warning track, that's why that's such a tough ball for me," he explained. "I'm not fast at all so I have a lot more room to cover. [Ryan] Sweeney probably has that standing up."
Second baseman Nick Punto had a bird's-eye view of the sliding attempt, having sprinted over as another option to hauling in the fly ball, and suggested that Gonzalez was very close to making an exceptional grab.
"I heard him at the last second," Punto said. "I had the best view of that. He had it and then he almost corralled it. It was almost a great play."
Perhaps the best compliment came from the mere fact that Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine chose to actually leave Gonzalez in the game despite the fact his team was carrying the lead in the seventh. It was a vast departure from just days earlier when Valentine pulled Gonzalez out of right for the final three innings with the score deadlocked due to defensive concerns.
“Keep him in, let Youk stay in, let Youk go to third. I don’t know. I’m with [Tim Bogar] there," Valentine said. "We’re talking through it from the third inning on. We’re seeing the matchup. We’re seeing the bullpen. What could happen. How it might develop. We have guys prepared for making a move that we want to move. We looked at each other in the sixth and said, 'Do we do it now?' I said, 'It’s too early, he’s got to get up again.' He got up again and hit it over the fence (for an RBI ground-rule double) on a hop and I said, 'That’s enough.' Then I should have pinch ran for him but I didn’t."
When asked if he was surprised the move wasn't made, Gonzalez explained that once in the mindset of living the life as an outfielder, it's tough to take yourself out of it.
"The game is going on. You don't think about that," he said. "You don't focus on that. When they say 'You're going to first,' You're just like, 'OK.' You don't go up to them and ask them thinking you're going to go to first."
A PROBLEM WITH THE UMPIRES
There has been a litany of issues with the Red Sox and umpires lately. But, according to one American League scout, it is for good reason.
"It's terrible," he said of the umpiring. "I haven't seen it this bad, ever."
Perhaps the momentum for discussion regarding umpiring and how it related to the Red Sox came when Gonzalez called out the umps for what he perceived as an inconsistent strike zone.
Gonzalez was never fined for his comments, but as one scout said, "He's paying the price now," suggesting the lefty hitter's strike zone has looked even larger of late.
According to BaseballAnalytics.org, the percentage of pitches called strikes that are out of the zone have risen from nine to 10 percent this season. Gonzalez and Mike Aviles lead Red Sox hitters in the amount of pitches called strikes that were deemed out of the zone.
'IT SEEMED VERY ODD'
Cody Ross is hopeful to get more of definitive decision on when he might be able to comeback from his navicular bone injury when being examined Thursday. But there is an aspect of the injury that has already surprised Ross.
The place where the less-than-one-centimeter piece of bone chipped off is on the exact opposite side of the foot from where the ball impacted when fouling it off his right foot May 18.
"It's on the other side of where the initial hit was," Ross said. "Underneath [the foot] chipped off. It was kind of a weird area.
"It seemed very good. That's why I was thinking I might have rolled my ankle and maybe stretched some ligaments or tendons or whatever. It ended up that bone chipped off and that was the pain I was feeling."
Ross, who was supposed to be in a walking boot for two weeks, said he is "pretty much pain-free," although there is a little soreness.
LEFY ON LEFTY CRIME
David Ortiz does not like being asked about his success against left-handed pitching, as was evidenced after he hit his sixth homer against a southpaw this season.
His initial answers to questions regarding the success against lefties?
"Seeing the ball and hitting it, man."
"Man, you're going to keep asking me questions about lefties? See the ball and hit it. See the ball, hit the ball, keep it simple. Man!"
But, before he was finished for the night, he wanted to get one message across: "Probably 70 percent of the time I come to hit with a guy on second, I'm seeing a lefty. Lefties, that's what everybody is getting right now. Everybody is focusing on lefties hitting against lefties, but there's a lot of right-handed hitters struggling against lefties. It's not just lefties against lefties."
So, let go to the numbers …
This season, major league hitters are hitting .261 against lefties, compared to .271 vs. righties. Righty hitters against southpaws this season are hitting .277, compared to .283 last year.
Ortiz, who is hitting .324 against left-handers, has seen 278 pitches from lefties and 545 vs. righties.
For what it's worth ...