By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Dealing with an ailing back, Adrian Gonzalez is unable to be on the field for the Dodgers as they play in their first World Series since 1988. But the 35-year-old apparently can’t even hang out in the dugout.
No, instead of supporting his teammates and helping out with some video work (he’s known as a great student of the game), Gonzalez is not with his team at all. Instead of doing what he can to help the Dodgers beat the Astros, he’s breaking down the games on television.
Seems a little strange, doesn’t it?
Initially, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported that “Gonzalez and his family went on vacation in Europe.” That vacation is either over or has been postponed, as evidenced by Gonzalez’s work on television on Tuesday night.
Either way, considering Gonzalez had the chance to at least be a part of a team in the World Series, it’s noteworthy that he’s elected to stay away.
“I know all of us have been wondering where he’s at and looking forward to seeing him again,” outfielder Andre Ethier told Shaikin this week. “We know that he’s a big part of this and want him to know that he’s a big part of this.”
“This is Adrian’s deal, not mine,” Justin Turner — who ended up being the Game 1 hero — told Shaikin prior to the start of the World Series. “He’s a really good friend of mine. I’m proud of him and happy to be a teammate of his. I text him almost every day: We miss you, we want you to be here with us, you should be here enjoying this with us. But I understand.”
Obviously, any view on the matter from Boston is going to be a bit skewed against the player. He was a productive player in nearly two seasons with the Red Sox, but he also complained about the team’s national TV schedule, wrote off the 2011 collapse as simply being part of God’s master plan, and dismissed all concerns about chicken and beer in the clubhouse by saying “People have to eat.”
When he went to L.A. as part of the massive, franchise-shifting trade in August of 2012, most in Boston recognized that the Red Sox were losing a very good hitter and an exceptional first baseman but maybe not the world’s greatest competitor.
So now, as he spends time in a TV studio instead of spending time with the team that’s paying him $21.5 million this year and will pay him $21.5 million next year, it’s certainly a little odd.
Hey, perhaps it’s just too painful for the 14-year MLB veteran who’s never taken a World Series at-bat. Maybe he buys into “The Cooler” nickname given to him by Dan Shaughnessy, who pointed out that the Dodgers went 47-44 when Gonzalez was on the active roster this year and 57-14 when he was not on the active roster. Though, probably not.
In any event, given the chance to play the role of veteran mentor or assistant hitting coach in the most important series of his teammates’ lives, Gonzalez chose to sit in a TV studio and provide illuminating analysis like this:
“We keep talking about Chris Taylor’s ability to spark-plug the whole team, he did it with the home run. But I think right now with J.T.’s go-ahead two-run homer, the fact that C.T. was able to work that walk to get on base so that it could be a two-run homer and not a solo homer, that extra run is a huge cushion for [Clayton] Kershaw and the bullpen. You have that one extra run now, we call it the insurance run. But that at-bat was huge.”
His absence is, at the very least, worth noting. And it’s certainly a bit strange.