The Dodgers activated Adrian Gonzalez from the disabled list Thursday, hopeful that two weeks to rehabilitate a sore right elbow and lower back will restore the power stroke that made the veteran first baseman one of baseball’s most consistent run-producers for the past decade.
“I think he’s close to 100%,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He told me how much better his body feels. I do expect the ball to come off his bat a lot better.”
Gonzalez, 35, went hitless in two at-bats Tuesday and was three for four with two doubles and two RBIs Wednesday for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.
“I’m good, I’m playing,” Gonzalez said in a brief exchange with reporters before the game. “Good talk.”
Is there a big difference in how he feels now compared to when he went on the DL on May 5?
“Yeah,” Gonzalez said, “that’s why I’m active.”
Gonzalez reported to spring training with right elbow inflammation, which radiated pain and caused stiffness in his forearm. That did not stop him from playing for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in March and playing all of April for the Dodgers.
Gonzalez said he altered his mechanics to compensate for the soreness in his forearm, which caused a left triceps strain. His condition worsened when he aggravated a previously herniated disk while bending to pick up his daughter on April 20.
The five-time All-Star hit .255 with a .635 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, no homers and 11 RBIs in 29 games before going on the DL, well below his career .290 average and .854 OPS entering the season.
“Sometimes he has a tendency, like a lot of hitters, to get overaggressive and get outside the strike zone,” Roberts said. “If he’s in the zone, I expect good contact. The power will come if you continue to take passes at balls in the zone.”
Scott Van Slyke was optioned to triple A to make room for Gonzalez.
Roberts is one of 16 managers, executives, owners and former players named by Commissioner Rob Manfred to a reconstituted competition committee, which is charged with studying all aspects of the game, including potential rule changes and pace-of-play issues, and advising the commissioner on on-field matters.
Buck Showalter (Baltimore), Joe Girardi (New York Yankees) and Mike Matheny (St. Louis) are the other managers on the committee.
“When Major League Baseball asks you to be a part of this committee with a lot of notable people I respect in this game,” Roberts said, “it was an opportunity I jumped at.”
Kenta Maeda (left hamstring tightness) is scheduled to throw four innings and 60 pitches for Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night. Roberts said Maeda will rejoin the rotation next week against St. Louis.
Second baseman Logan Forsythe (right big toe fracture, left hamstring strain) had one hit in six at-bats for Rancho on Tuesday and Wednesday. He will play two more Class-A games Friday and Saturday and could be activated Sunday or Tuesday.
Gonzalez and his wife, Betsy, will help dedicate two Dodgers Dreamfields at Darby Park in Inglewood on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. In addition to providing financial support for the construction of both fields, Gonzalez will cover the $25 registration fee for some 500 players to participate in a youth program.
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