Adrian Gonzalez, although unable to show off that smooth stroke to Red Sox Nation just yet, is giving the league's most passionate fan base reason to smile already.

On Thursday, general manager Theo Epstein told The Boston Globe that Gonzo is closer to 100 percent than expected.

"He has been on or ahead of schedule the whole winter with his rehab in terms of range of motion and strength in the shoulder," Epstein told the Globe's Peter Abraham. "He had been projected to start swinging a bat March 1 and getting into games the third week of March or so, but if he's doing as well as it seems, there might be some flexibility to move that timetable up.

"I think we all feel like he’ll be ready for Opening Day," he added. "We’re going to get together and map out a schedule that makes sense. We’re excited that he feels so good and is here early."