Entering the 2017 season, Adrian Gonzalez figured to once again factor into the middle of the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup, producing and driving in runs like he is long accustomed to.
Unfortunately for the 14-year veteran, things went awry before Opening Day even arrived. Gonzalez battled a sore elbow prior to and shortly after participating for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, and as a result, missed a stretch of Cactus League games.
While the 35-year-old ultimately recovered, he was hardly effective at the plate during the first month of the season. In 85 at-bats during April, Gonzalez batted .259 without a single home run.
Gonzalez was eventually placed on the disabled list during the first week of May with a herniated disc in his back — the first stint of his illustrious career. He returned later in the month, but found himself back on the sidelines three weeks later.
Because of lingering back discomfort, a decision was made to shut Gonzalez down for the final few games of the regular season, plus the playoffs. Unforeseen circumstances could lead to his return, but the situation would need to be drastic in order for that to occur.
Despite an injury-plagued season, the veteran first baseman is staying optimistic and expects to once again start in 2018, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“Well, I hope not,” he said of his back issues being just as much of a problem next year. “My plan is to play every day, be an every-day player again and give it a go to have a really good season like I expected this year.”
Gonzalez, who completed his sixth season with the Dodgers, has one year remaining on his contract. He posted career-lows across the board since becoming an everyday player in 2006, including in games played (71), at-bats (252), hits (56), home runs (three), RBI (30) and batting average (.242).
While it was a challenging year for Gonzalez, there were still some memorable moments. In what amounted to his final game played, Gonzalez hit a home run in the rout against his former San Diego Padres club.
Gonzalez also tallied the 2,000th hit of his career on Aug. 22 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, becoming just the 285th player in Major League history to reach that mark.
It isn’t clear yet where Gonzalez fits in with the Dodgers next season, especially with the emergence of National League Rookie of the Year favorite Cody Bellinger. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Gonzalez is traded or bought out of the final year of his deal.
He intends to spend the offseason going through a modified workout program that targets improving the condition of his back.