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December 6, 2010

Winter Meetings

Black on Gonzo: To Left and Against Left

by David Laurila

Bud Black understands pitching as well as any manager in the game, and he also knows Adrian Gonzalez as well as anyone. The Padres skipper won’t have the left-handed slugger in his lineup next season -- Gonzalez is now Red Sox property -- but he fielded plenty of questions about him during today’s media session. Two of the subjects he addressed were Gonzalez’s ability to hit the ball to left field, and his ability to hit against left-handed pitchers.

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Black on Gonzalez: “Boston should be favorable to him, because he has opposite field power and he has the ability to hit the ball in the air to left field. A lot of his home runs in San Diego were fly balls to left. In Fenway, just like at Petco, I can see balls going all over the place -- straightaway center, he hooks the ball down the line, and he can hit the ball off the wall.

“This year he hit [left-handed pitchers] well, last year not so well, the year before OK. He has a great understanding of hitting. He’s a tremendous student of hitting. He takes the science of hitting very seriously. He’s a great studier of pitchers -- a lot of time on the videotape. He goes about it the right way. I noticed that this year a great deal of that tape was watching against left-handed pitching. That might have had something to do with [his success].

“If anything, he might have stayed on the ball a little bit more [against lefties] and thought more [about] left field. Primarily, the left-handed pitcher is going to pitch the left-handed hitter away, and I think that Gonzo was looking to drive the ball, against the lefty, the other way. I think that he also did a lot better job of laying off the breaking ball down and away, and off the plate.”

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