LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Watching Adrian Gonzalez over the past four years, San Diego Padres manager Bud Black saw excellence. Black feels that a few factors may contribute to taking that excellence to another level in Boston, if that's possible.
Meeting with reporters Monday at the winter meetings, Black said that Gonzalez is the kind of player that will "thrive" in Boston, for many reasons. The All-Star first baseman's personality is at the top of that list.
"He understands the game and all that goes along with it," Black said. "He understands all that goes along with being the type of player that he is. He gets all that. He's gonna do fine and I suspect he'll thrive on it.
"Boston is a very unique place to play, in a very positive way, and I think a player like Gonzo will enjoy that."
In addition, Gonzalez will move from the spacious conditions in Petco Park to a goldmine in Boston. Fenway Park suits his stroke very well and sticking him in front of guys like Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz can only amplify the potential impact — Gonzalez drew 35 intentional walks last year.
"It will only help him and help the other guys," Black said. "High on-base percentage. When he's around [Kevin] Youkilis and [David] Ortiz, [J.D.] Drew, [Mike] Cameron, [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Dustin] Pedroia. You put another All-Star in there with those All-Stars, [you have] a good team. Very good team."
The one lingering issue in the acquisition of Gonzalez — his surgically repaired shoulder — is not a concern to Black. In fact, after watching Gonzalez struggle with the pain through 2010 and knowing the adjustments he had to make, Black was excited to see him play pain-free again.
"The stroke was different based on how his shoulder was [each day]," Black said. "It affected him on certain pitches. That shouldn't be a problem now. Surgery went well. It was what they expected when they went in there, and he's rehabbing.
"If anything, it should be better. And he was pretty good last year."