Unless there's a sick child involved, it isn't often that you hear about a player predicting he'll hit a home run in a specific game.
Yet that's exactly what Adrian Gonzalez is doing for Thursday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays. After going 0 for 4 in Wednesday's 2-1 loss, the Boston Red Sox first baseman said that he'd be hitting a home run in the series finale.
"I'll start hitting home runs," Gonzalez told reporters. "I'll hit a home run tomorrow."
Time will reveal the accuracy of Gonzalez's predictive power. But he might want to up his slugging percentage soon, because he's been in a slump. Gonzalez has hit only two home runs all season — same as Albert Pujols! — and is currently experiencing a very Pujolsian drought at the plate. He hasn't hit a home run since April 17, a span that includes 103 at-bats and 26 games.
It's clear that Gonzalez doesn't look very comfortable, a fact that was confirmed when he went on a rant against bad umpiring from behind home plate.
Short version: He's with all of you who condoned Brett Lawrie's helmet toss.
Long version: Bad calls have altered his approach at the plate.
"When (the umpires are) good, you can be comfortable up there," Gonzalez said. "You know what the strike zone is. When they're not, you have to go up there and hack. It's frustrating. You wish you could keep (pitchers) on the plate and force them to come in, but that doesn't happen anymore."
It's not hard to sympathize with Gonzalez because a consistent strike zone is a rare thing to find in baseball these days. At the same time, the best hitters adapt to almost any situation and it wasn't that long ago that Gonzalez was near the top of the list of best hitters in the league. It's one thing to vent your frustration after a bad month, but quite another to let it continue to affect your play. Luckily for Red Sox fans, Gonzalez sounds like a man who wants to put an end to all those frustrations as soon as possible.
Maybe even Thursday night.