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Monday, December 6, 2010
Gonzalez: Joining Red Sox was 'second dream'

By Chris Forsberg



BOSTON -- Declaring it his “second dream” to play in Boston, Adrian Gonzalez crossed out another entry on his reverie list when he was introduced as the latest member of the Red Sox during a half-hour news conference Monday at Fenway Park.

Flanked by general manager Theo Epstein and owner John Henry, the soft-spoken Gonzalez donned a numberless home Sox jersey (he’ll have to duke it out with old friend Mike Cameron if he wants the No. 23 he wore in San Diego) and spoke of growing up rooting for Boston from afar with a desire to one day play in Fenway Park.

“I had five incredible years in San Diego, where I grew up trying to play in the major leagues and be a Padre,” Gonzalez said. “But my second dream was to be a Red Sox and so I’m very excited ... to start this new phase. I look forward to a lot of world championships.”

Gonzalez later tossed in a reference about being ready to “beat the Yanks,” the most surefire way to endear himself to the region. Averaging a .284 batting average, 32 home runs, and 99 RBIs over seven major league seasons is another.

The Red Sox will ship minor leaguers -- outfielder Reymond Fuentes, right-handed pitcher Casey Kelly and first baseman Anthony Rizzo -- and a player to be named later to San Diego in exchange for Gonzalez, but were unable to immediately work out a long-term extension with him, though all sides expressed great confidence that would get done, as Epstein noted, “when the time is right.”

Here’s a handful of highlights from the session:

* Epstein on the trade and how it went down: “The trade is complete, we do not have a contract extension in place, but there was a lot of negotiations over the course of the weekend with Adrian’s agents in town. We sat down and Larry Lucchino was involved, I think we learned a lot about each other’s position. There was a lot of good faith that developed over the course of the negotiations and both sides have an understanding of what it will take, when the time is right. We got close to a deal, but in the end the [48-hour] window [to negotiate] lapsed and we didn’t have a deal. We decided to go forward with the trade anyway, as a demonstration of the good faith that developed. Had we not gotten to know Adrian and his wife [Betsy] and what they’re all about over the course of the weekend, we probably wouldn’t have had that comfort. We think that he’s such a good fit -- Adrian wants to be a Red Sox -- and we want him to be a Red Sox for a long time. We’re very confident that, when the time is right, we’ll be able to work something out.”

* Epstein’s scouting report on Gonzalez: “He’s not a hard guy to scout any more. He’s one of very best hitters in the game, left-handed hitter, tremendous ability to control the strike zone, hit for power, power to all fields. His natural stroke is to the opposite field, which is a great fit for our ballpark. He hits the ball the other way, so he’ll be using the wall, and we think he’ll wear the wall out going from [pitcher friendly] Petco [Park] to Fenway Park.”

Epstein joked Gonzalez would need to work on his speed with all those doubles he stands to register off the wall. Gonzalez added, “My first fly ball to left that would have been an out at Petco, I’m looking forward to getting to second base [at Fenway].”

* Epstein on bringing Gonzalez to Boston: “We’ve been, as an organization, on Adrian for a long time, dating back to his days with the Texas organization. We got pretty close to acquiring him at the trade deadline in 2009 ... but it didn’t work out. Last offseason, we had some dialogue, but that didn’t work out. This winter, as soon as I saw that [San Diego general manager] Jed [Hoyer] made some public comments that it was unlikely that Adrian would play in San Diego for the long term, we took that as he might be more open to [discussions]. We got in touch right away and starting talking through what possible packages might look like. We negotiated the prospect package over the course of a couple weeks. At the end of last week, things started to heat up, and we made some strong proposals. I had a good feeling by middle of the week we’d get something done. Then Thursday early afternoon, we were able to get it done.

“Negotiating with Jed was great. I trust him because I know him, he’s an honest guy and he has knowledge of our farm system. It wasn’t a situation where either side was looking to pull a fast ball on the other. This trade was all known commodities. We know Adrian really well, we know that he’s of one of the best players in the game; Jed knows our system well and got three great prospects. This is a win-win-win situation. To me, the only part of the deal that I have any regrets about, is losing those prospects. I had connection to all three of them, especially Anthony Rizzo, who fought cancer as member of Red Sox and someone who made the organization very proud ... I’ll miss all three of those kids.”