Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has been one of the most consistent and durable players in all of baseball the past decade, but that changed this season as he was hampered by injuries.
He dealt with elbow/forearm soreness during Spring Training that carried into the beginning of the season, and then the same herniated disc that’s been problematic in recent years. That forced Gonzalez to the disabled list for the first time in his career, followed by a second DL stint.
He was was activated off the 60-day disabled list and started at first base in the series opener against the Detroit Tigers. Gonzalez doubled in his first at-bat, scored a run and went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
His return created somewhat of a roster crunch that was alleviated by Cody Bellinger’s and Chris Taylor’s versatility. At the time it appeared he would need to accept a reduced role, Gonzalez was hopeful his willingness would resonate with the younger players on the Dodgers roster, via Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times:
“That’s the example I want to set for the younger guys,” Gonzalez said. “I’m not going to sit there and complain because I’m not playing. I’m going to be ready for when he does need me.”
“I think the older guys being examples is one of the reasons why the team’s bought into it,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez’s viewpoint and mindset further supported manager Dave Roberts’ claim of this team being the most unselfish he’s been part of. Roberts has gone so far as to say it’s the most impressive aspect of the Dodgers.
In May, Gonzalez volunteered to go on the disabled list for the first time in his career, in part to allow for a flourishing Bellinger to continue playing on a daily basis.
While Gonzalez intended to accept any role upon his return this month, Bellinger’s sprained ankle and subsequent stint on the disabled list has created an everyday opportunity for the veteran. Gonzalez made eight consecutive starts at first base upon coming off the DL.
Last Tuesday, the 35-year-old doubled to collect his 2,000th career hit.
On the season, Gonzalez is batting .244/.291/.338 with 13 doubles, two home runs and 26 RBIs in 58 games. Assuming he’s able to produce at the level that’s expected, Gonzalez further strengthens a Dodgers lineup and bench that’s already been among the best.