Of the four players the Los Angeles Dodgers received from the Boston Red Sox in the August 2012 nine-player trade, only Adrian Gonzalez remains with the organization. Nick Punto was first to depart, after the 2013 season; Josh Beckett retired following the 2014 season; and Carl Crawford was released last June.
Gonzalez has anchored first base and the heart of the lineup as the primary left-handed slugger during his tenure with the Dodgers. That’s all been despite the veteran battling a bulging disc in his neck last spring and recurring back pain that’s a result of a pinched nerve.
Gonzalez reported to Camelback Ranch on Friday with a minor ailment — tendinitis in his right elbow — that requires two weeks of rest. It’s put his availability for Team Mexico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
Beyond that, there isn’t much cause for concern over the injury. On a somewhat related note, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expressed a hope to provide his veteran first baseman with ample days of rest throughout the regular season, per ESPN’s Doug Padilla:
“It’s more of curtailing some at-bats and obviously that’s up for debate with Adrian,” Roberts said. “He wants to be out there every day.”
Gonzalez, who will turn 35 years old in May, has appeared in at least 156 games since becoming a full-time player (past 11 seasons). He missed three consecutive games last May due to lower back pain that required an epidural shot.
Gonzalez didn’t start in a fourth straight game, though appeared off the bench as a pinch-hitter. Prior to that point, he last missed three straight games in August 2005. The last time Gonzalez did not appear in four consecutive games was twice in September 2004 after joining the Texas Rangers from the Minors.
Last season, Roberts touched on the difficulty in removing Gonzalez from the lineup due to his desire to play every day. The then-rookie manager largely deferred to the five-time All-Star, though did attempt to provide some relief, such as using Gonzalez as a designated hitter when the Dodgers played in an American League ballpark.
Dependent on how the active roster takes shape, conceivable options to spell Gonzalez include Chase Utley and Scott Van Slyke.