I sat down with MVP candidate Adrian Gonzalez while Boston was in town this week. The Red Sox slugger couldn't be more gracious. I almost wanted to remind him that people feared him. He was extremely down to earth and was very humble about not only his offensive prowess, but his team's success despite a laundry list of injuries.
Gonzalez leads the American League in batting average, RBIs, multi-hit games, hits, total bases, doubles and extra base hits. The four-time All-Star was evasive when I asked about the potential of winning the MVP.
"At the end of the day things like that happen by themselves," said Gonzalez. "You don't focus on them. You don't think about them. Just try to be the best player every day, be the best you can and if that's what pans out toward the end of the year, that's incredible. That's a great feeling, but the number one goal is to win a World Series. "
It's a goal the Red Sox have kept within reach despite losing three of their five starting pitchers as well as players like Carl Crawford and Jed Lowrie to injury. Boston's offense has picked up the baton becoming the best hitting team in the American League.
Gonzalez said he never felt the pressure to carry the offense despite his $154 million contract.
"Being with the Rangers and Padres and playing in a really tough division in San Diego and the National League West, it prepares you for everything. So you just go out there and do the best you can," said Gonzalez. "You go through your routine and the way you do it each and every day and not focus on individual stats. Just focus on helping the team win. It takes away all that pressure because it doesn't matter if you go 0-for-4 or have a great day at the plate. If the team wins, that's all that matters."
While the Red Sox haven't budged in the face of adversity, the Orioles have imploded. The Birds are piecing a rotation together and haven't adopted the 'next man up' mentality of the Red Sox.
Side note: Buck Showalter gave Gonzalez his first shot in the big leagues. Showalter was managing the Texas Rangers in 2004 when he called Gonzalez up from the minors. The future All-Star played 16 games for Showalter that year.
I asked Gonzalez if he had any memories of the O's manager. "Of course, the first time I got called up and I got a chance to play, he wished me good luck and it's definitely something that I'll always remember," said Gonzalez.
Also, Gonzalez played against Adam Jones in high school. Jones was a freshman in 2000 at Morse High School in San Diego. Gonzalez was a senior at Eastlake High. Both remember that game. Jones said he was proud that two kids from the same area were both drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Play Draft just three years apart. Gonzalez was taken first overall by the Marlins in 2000. Jones was selected by the Mariners in 2003.
Program note: Catch my full interview with Adrian Gonzalez Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Report.