While Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has juggled his position players and frequently altered the lineup based on matchups, Adrian Gonzalez has been a fixture at first base. Entering Thursday, the Dodgers have played 34 games this season.
Gonzalez has appeared in all of them, making 33 starts. His first game appearing off the bench (as a pinch-hitter) didn’t occur until April 25 — 20 games into the season.
One of Gonzalez’s starts was as the designated hitter on the Dodgers’ recent road trip in which they played five games in an American League ballpark.
While the veteran first baseman has managed to start night in and night out, his production has fluctuated. On the Dodgers’ last homestand — a seven-game stretch — he went 0-for-20 with eight strikeouts.
Peaks and valleys certainly are to be expected over the course of a season, and Gonzalez is no stranger to such ebb and flow. He’s affected by a bulging disk in his neck that’s a matter of pain management.
The injury affected his lower body and swing in the second half of 2015. When asked if it was possible Gonzalez was suffering the same issues this season, Roberts acknowledged the five-time All-Star likely wouldn’t divulge if that were the case.
“If he were (having neck trouble), he wouldn’t say it. He’s a guy who loves to post,” Roberts said on Monday. “I’ve talked to him about giving him another day (off), but he wants to play. I respect that. As far as the neck thing, I haven’t heard anything.”
Roberts added Gonzalez has earned the right to be in the lineup on days he asserts he’s capable of playing. That being said, Roberts is planning to utilize Gonzalez as the DH when the Freeway Series shifts to Angel Stadium in the middle of next week.
On the season Gonzalez is batting .288/.364/.400 with five doubles, three home runs and 18 RBIs. He’s hit safely in six of the last 10 games, collecting multiple hits in four games during that span.