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Former Dodger Adrian Gonzalez jumps into tech

Adrian Gonzalez would like to play ball this year. The former Dodgers first baseman worked out for teams last week, and he awaits word of any contract offers.

Gonzalez turns 37 in May. Retirement is not far away, with or without a contract, but the five-time All-Star is about to launch a business venture that could keep him tied to the sport.

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Gonzalez is helping to launch an app called Pop Fly, a marketing tool that could enable players to give fans a one-stop shop for information, messages and merchandise.

“For the player, from the player, to the fan,” Gonzalez said.

The idea is to create a single destination for fans to learn all about a player, instead of forcing them to follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, as well as on outlets run by teams and leagues. Call up the “RedTurn2” app, for instance, and find Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner’s messages to fans, behind-the-scenes looks at his life on and off the field, his community involvement, his statistics, and a store for his personal merchandise.

Gonzalez said traditional advertising campaigns focus on the player selling a product he or his team might be paid to endorse, rather than a product he might actually use.

“All that branding is not organic,” Gonzalez said. “People see it as fake. You’ve got to be authentic.”

For instance, Gonzalez said, he could approach the company that makes the water he already drinks, offering what amounts to product placement in his workout videos, at a fraction of the cost of an ad of Gonzalez in uniform, for which the company would have to pay royalties for the use of team logos.

Gonzalez said the app would be free to fans and players, with players deciding how much of their life they wish to share and how often they wish to share it. He said the app could be useful even for Angels star Mike Trout, who chooses not to market himself with the intensity Major League Baseball would prefer.

“Let Trout be Trout,” Gonzalez said. “He can present himself however he wants to present himself. Some people just like to take their dog for a walk. Post that.”

Gonzalez paid the majority of development costs estimated at $250,000, said Jesse Nunez, the chief executive of Pop Fly and a former Dodgers manager of broadcast sales and Hispanic initiatives.

Gonzalez said he hopes to recruit players and launch the app over spring training. If three or more players sign up, the project would require a licensing agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Assn.

The union, like the league, has struggled to market players. The union two years ago launched its own player-centric app, Infield Chatter, which has not become widely used. Gonzalez pitched the Pop Fly concept last year in a meeting with MLBPA executive director Tony Clark.

“Finding new and exciting ways to connect players more closely with fans is great for the game, for the players and the fans,” Clark told the Times. “The Players Assn. naturally supports any initiatives to achieve that, but especially when they’re player-driven — like here.”

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