There is one reason and one reason ONLY why it might not be a great idea to put Adrian Gonzalez in RF during the Sox upcoming nine-game tour through the National League. And here is a hint …. It has nothing to do with remote possibility that Gonzalez might get hurt out there.
But that is what some critics of the move are hanging their hat on, arguing that moving Gonzalez to RF needlessly exposes the Mexican Masher to injury. Put him out there, and Manager Terry Francona is putting the season on the line, some apoplectics argue.
Wait a second. Is there some peer-reviewed medical study that confirms – or even suggests – that a player’s risk of injury is noticeably higher in right field than it is at first base? Did I miss that entry in the latest Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine? If so, it is probably because I was too busy reading these reports on Albert Pujols broken arm.
Folks, nobody is suggesting that Gonzalez return punts, fight the Mexican drug cartels or grab a mop and clean up one of those Fukushima reactor vessels. He is being asked to swap gloves and play right field three or four times.
To think that this is a risky proposition one has to think that playing RF is somehow more dangerous than playing first base. The scientific literature is silent on this issue and common sense tells us that if there is an increase in risk, it is statistically insignificant. Beyond that, if you weigh that increase against the fact that Gonzalez will only be out there a few times, the odds of something bad happening, relative to the odds of something bad happening while Gonzalez is at first are infinitesimally small.
A much better reason for opposing the move is simple … Gonzalez might suck out there. Remember Kevin Youkilis out in left? Well, there is no saying this won’t be worse. Much worse. And that could ruin Gonzo’s groove at the plate and lead to runs for the opposition. If you are going to oppose the move, it is on these grounds that you should base your argument.
But please, stop with the injury talk. Because Adrian Gonzalez is perfectly capable of running down fly balls without pulling up lame. So if it were up to me, I would give him a shot out there. And if he looks even modestly comfortable, I’d give him a second shot. Not because I want him out there regularly. But because I want David Ortiz to hit and I will try almost anything that keeps JD Drew and Mike Cameron on the bench.
Batting third and playing right field …. Adrian Gonzalez.