Adrian Gonzalez Borrows Stroke from Ichiro Suzuki in Latest Display of Power


May 15, 2011

Adrian Gonzalez Borrows Stroke from Ichiro Suzuki in Latest Display of Power NEW YORK, NY — It has been 44 days since Adrian Gonzalez's Red Sox career began in earnest with his first regular season appearance in the uniform.

Already, his legend is growing by leaps and bounds.

In the latest twist to what is becoming a historic onslaught of home runs, Gonzalez made an adjustment seemingly more suited to a backyard game of wiffle ball than a Saturday night affair in The Bronx against New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia.

After striking out and grounding out twice against Sabathia, once into an inning-ending double play, Gonzalez said to teammates and manager Terry Francona prior to their fourth encounter in the seventh inning that he was going to utilize a swing modeled after Ichiro Suzuki, whose iconic form sees him thrust his hips ahead of the rest of his body and almost sweep out of the box as he swings.

To make that kind of mid-game adjustment, and a bold one at that, and then crush a Sabathia fastball into the seats in right-center field, speaks to how incredible Gonzalez is at the plate.

"He amazes me," Francona said. "I mean, when you say you're going to do it and you do it, that?s pretty impressive."

Gonzalez joked that he "wasn?t going to use the same approach" he had in the first three at-bats. By making the change, and finding success, he reinforced the idea that there may be no better hitter in the game at adjusting on the fly.

On Tuesday in Toronto, Gonzalez struck out swinging and then looking in his first two at-bats against Blue Jays righty Kyle Drabek. In their third meeting, Gonzalez slugged a two-run shot to left. He added another off reliever Frank Francisco in the ninth inning of that game.

As impressive as that display was, the buzz surrounding the Ichiro impression will last a little longer.

"I was looking for a ball in, [try to] clear the hips early," Gonzalez said. "I told [Francona] I was going to do it."

"He said he was going to have a little bit of Ichiro, a little leak," Francona said. "He said, 'Do you have a problem with it?' I said, 'Not if you get a hit.'"

He did, and by doing so extended his streak of games with at least one home run to four. Gonzalez has eight blasts in 11 games overall. While the slugger took it all in stride, saying he goes through something like this a couple of times a year, the words "Triple Crown" were even tossed around in the Red Sox clubhouse.

Jason Varitek was asked if he there was a chance.

"It's May, but obviously Adrian's bat speaks for itself," Varitek said. "It would be nice to see somebody be able to do that."

Varitek's right. Far too early for such talk. That said, Gonzalez entered the night leading the American League in RBIs and among the leaders in batting and home runs. He also has an early edge on the rest of the league in Ichiro impressions, and it's safe to say that if anyone else tries it, they won't have the same result. That's just part of the growing Adrian Gonzalez legend.

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