Adrian Gonzalez’s home-run streak might be over, but the four-time All-Star continues to collect hits.
Entering the Dodgers’ series opener against the Colorado Rockies on Friday, Gonzalez has 19 hits -- more than any player in franchise history through the first nine games of a season.
Gonzalez has also reached base two or more times in each game. The last Dodgers player to do that was Jackie Robinson in 1952.
Gonzalez, who homered five times in his first three games, is now batting a major league-leading .528.
“You try to stay focused, try to keep that good streak going, the same mentality, don’t change a lot of what you’re doing right, try to ride the wave as long as you can, ride the hot streak,” he said. “We know this game is about ups and downs and there are going to be downs in the season, so the longer I can keep up a hot streak, the better the year will be at the end of the year and the better we’ll be as a team.”
Considering Gonzalez isn’t superstitious, what is he doing to maintain what he’s feeling?
“It has to do a lot with work in the cage, work in BP,” he said. “I haven’t really been trying to hit home runs in BP. I’ve just been trying to hit line drives up the middle. I think it’s played out, especially when I’ve been facing lefties, where I’ve been hitting the ball up the middle, the other way, more than I did last year. Righties, they try to pound me in, I’m ready for the fastball, but my mentality’s not pull. It’s just be ready for the fastball. Stay with the mentality, keep it as simple as I can because things are going well.”
Asked whether he had a similar mind-set earlier in his career, Gonzalez said, “Probably not. I got to the point where I know that preparation is all that I can do. The game will take care of itself. I’m just going to be out there having fun. If I prepare, I do all the work before the game right, the game, just enjoy it and have fun. Earlier I would have cared a lot about, ‘Try to go the other way,’ ‘Try to pull the ball,’ ‘Try to do this, do that.’ Now, I just try to hit it. People talk about shifts, but I could care less about shifts. I’m just trying to hit the ball hard.”
By not thinking about homering, Gonzalez said he might be placing himself in better position to do so.
“When you’re not thinking home run, it’s easier to square up the ball, which will result in probably more home runs and extra-base hits,” he said. “When you think home run, you get long, you get big and you pop up most of the time or you swing through it.”