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Padres' Gonzalez finding new ways to contribute on and off the field Phillip Brents | Sat, Oct 02 2010 11:55 PM

Regardless of what happens from here on, Padres fans have enjoyed a most unexpected and exciting 2010 season. Picked by many pundits to finish dead last, the Padres have not only surpassed expectations, but have totally obliterated them.

One of the many reasons for the team’s success this season has been the superb play of hometown hero Adrian Gonzalez. The 2000 San Diego Section Player of the Year out of Eastlake High has gone on to represent his hometowns of Tijuana and Chula Vista well. With three All-Star Game appearances, three Padres MVP awards and two National League Golden Glove awards, Gonzalez has lived up to his promise as the top player in the 2000 Major League Draft.

The success that Gonzalez has enjoyed is no accident. For every hour that he spends on the field, he spends many more in training.

“It is all about being prepared,” he said. “I devote more time to hitting because that is the nature of the game. It is probably a 65-35 percent breakdown. I make sure that when I am working on defense, though, that I get the right type of work. I like to be efficient.” 

At 28, Gonzalez is in the prime of his career. He once again leads the Friars in many offensive categories, including average (.305) home runs (29) RBI (97) doubles (32) and slugging percentage (.519). Defensively, he is arguably the finest first baseman in baseball. His excellence on the field could likely make it impossible for the Padres to keep him in a San Diego uniform much longer.

If he leaves, it will be a sad day both in the Padres clubhouse and in the greater San Diego community. Few people have done as much for local causes as has Gonzalez.

One of his most recent fundraisers was a Celebrity Chef Night at Acqua Al 2 Restaurant in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. Sponsored by the Betsy & Adrian Gonzalez Foundation, patrons paid up to $230 a plate for dinner, entertainment and an opportunity to get up close and personal with Gonzalez and some of his teammates who served as celebrity chefs and waiters.

“I did some cooking the first two years, but from now on I will need to be all over the place as the host,” he said. “This year we are raising the money for the Infectious Disease Department of Rady Children’s Hospital.”

Specifically, the thousands of dollars raised will go toward fighting the growing problem of the virulent staph infection called MRSA.

Closer to his South Bay roots, Gonzalez teamed up in January with his brothers David and Edgar to open the Gonzalez Sports Academy. 

The 28,000-square-foot state-of-the-art training facility located near Eastlake High School is designed to help athletes training in a variety of sports.

“It is nice to have that up and running,” Gonzalez said. “We have to do a little more marketing, but word is getting out that it is a great facility. Kids need a place to work out in the off-season. It has been a lot of fun putting it together.”

When Gonzalez looks back on his career thus far in San Diego, one moment stands out for him.
“It has to be the ’06 playoffs—just being in a playoff atmosphere,” he said. “Opening up here at home (was very exciting). I know we didn’t do that well, but having that experience of being in the playoffs was incredible.”

If the Padres can hold on and fend off strong challenges from the Giants and Rockies, Gonzalez may enjoy that euphoric playoff feeling again.

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