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David Brown

Answer Man: Gonzalez Bros. talk A/C, big ears and family

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Padres infielders Adrian and Edgar Gonzalez share a fraternity beyond their genes. The San Diego natives are among a dozen or so brotherly combinations in the majors, but are one of only two duos — the LaRoches of Pittsburgh being the other — who play on the same team.

Adrian, 26, was the top overall pick in the 2000 draft and has become one of the top sluggers in the National League. Edgar, 30, was drafted the same season 30 rounds later and took a grueling, circuitous path to the majors, a dream he finally realized last season.

Before a recent game at Wrigley Field, the Gonzalezes transcended San Diego's lofty brotherly tradition — from Sandy and Roberto Alomar to Rick and A.J. Simon — and helped Big League Stew conduct its first dual Answer Man session.

David Brown: Which one of you did mom always like better?

Edgar Gonzalez: I think it was both about the same.

Adrian: Both. All three of us, all three brothers. She paid all the same amount of attention to all of — that's why none of us are very needy.

DB: You guys are kind of the Peyton and Eli Manning of Major League Baseball and like the Mannings with Cooper Manning, you have another brother — David — who is the non-playing Gonzalez Brother. What's he like?

Adrian: He played college ball at Point Loma Nazarene. He bounced around before that, but he finished his junior and senior year at Point Loma Nazarene. He would have played professional baseball, except for having arm problems late in his junior year at college. He was a shortstop.

DB: You guys got your baseball skills from dad, right?

Edgar: Yeah, I think we got it from my dad and a little bit from my older brother. Both of us, we've played baseball all our lives [starting at] our back yard in our house. That's what we've done our whole lives. I think my dad had a love for the game and that's where we got it.

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DB: Would you guys be heating and air-conditioning men like your dad if you didn't have baseball skills?

Adrian: Yeah, I don't see why not. It's a successful business that my dad has, and he's had it for over 30 years. He would just have to teach us how to do it, you know?

DB: You guys never bothered to learn?

Adrian: [Laughs]. Well, no, I mean, I was drafted out of high school. All I know right now is baseball and high school learning.

Edgar: It was a couple of years for me in the minor leagues, out of nine years, that I had to pick up a book on air conditioning, thinking it might be my next stop if I don't get to the big leagues pretty soon.

DB: How often should I change the air filter on my furnace?

Adrian: Six months. Three to six months.

Edgar: I'm going to wait until my dad gets involved.

Adrian: Do you live in Mexico?

DB: I've only visited.

Adrian: It doesn't matter then. My dad's not going to make any profit off it.

DB: You guys are only about 40 feet apart on defense. Does that mean you're also emotionally closer than, say, the LaRoche brothers, who play across the diamond from each other?

Adrian: We definitely get to talk a lot more. It's good to be able to [converse] between pitches, talk about different situations of the game, and just being able to being a little more involved.

Edgar: We even joke around sometimes during the games, so it's pretty fun.

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DB: Have you ever had a conversation with the LaRoches about being brothers and playing on the same team?

Adrian: No, just the basic, 'Yeah, it's pretty cool, huh? Yeah, it is.' I think they get along well, too, and that's always a good thing.

Edgar: I think Adam told me last year that, one time when I got to first base, he told me how nice it would be to play with his brother — right before his brother was traded there.

DB: Are you guys, like, way better at being brothers than say, Marcus and Brian Giles(notes) are?

Adrian: I don't know, they're pretty good brothers. They know each other really well. I think [Edgar and I] are just brothers.

Edgar: I think it's a different kind of way. Everybody gets along in a different way. They do it their way and we get along in ours.

DB: There's a misconception that some people think Adrian's older because he's a little taller and got to the majors first.

Edgar: Sometimes I act like the younger brother, sometimes I act like the older brother. We both help each other at different times. Age isn't a matter for either of us; it doesn't play into how we feel about each other.

DB: There have been four sets of brothers who played for the Padres — The others are Roberto and Sandy Alomar, Jr., Chris and Tony Gwynn(notes), Marcus and Brian Giles. What about following in that tradition?

Adrian: One thing is, we grew up in San Diego. We've loved the Padres and it would be nice if we could play together for a long time. Our careers are not predicted by us at all points but hopefully we'll be able to share more years in the near future and [beyond].

DB: Who got better grades?

Adrian: I think I did, no? He always got in trouble.

Edgar: I got citizenship [problems]. My citizenship wasn't very good. I got good grades.

Adrian: He likes to talk a lot.

Edgar: Yeah, I had a lot of friends. He was by himself.

Adrian: He's always the guy with a lot of friends and my friends were the guys I played baseball with. He had a lot of off-the-field friends. I was always more into doing my homework, practicing baseball and sleeping.

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DB: Edgar, cameras caught Adrian wearing a cap with ear flaps on a 45-degree night in New York. It was made fun of, a little bit, on the Internet (above). Not a huge deal, but what do you think about Adrian rocking the cap with the flaps?

Adrian: Let me say something to defend myself first.

DB: I asked the question to the other guy!

Adrian: I got big ears. That's most of my body. If my ears are cold, my body is cold. I got big ears, so I've got to protect them.

Edgar: I think I've got to defend him on that one. I saw Oliver Perez(notes) making fun of me during batting practice because I had a beanie and the ear flaps [laughs]. I mean, to me, it was freezing. We're from San Diego. You've got to understand that.

Adrian: It was more, too, just to have them on in case it got colder. Then, if you didn't have them on, you were really in trouble.

DB: Your comfort level really starts at your ears?

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Adrian: I mean, when most of your body consists of your ears, you've got to protect them.

DB: Edgar, you were not born with the same ears, is it fair to say?

Edgar: Yeah, it's fair to say that. My ears are pretty small.

DB: The 2000 draft comes and Adrian goes first overall. Edgar, you're picked in the 30th round. Did your family celebrate evenly? Did you all go to Applebees?

Adrian: [Completely disgusted] Applebees? No, we had carne asada. C'mon.

DB: Where'd you go?

Adrian: We had carne asada at home. Like a barbecue for Mexicans.

Edgar: I actually think we were more excited for me. I didn't know if I was going to get drafted, so I was excited for me. We already knew he was going to be the first pick.

DB: So that was Edgar's day.

Edgar: Yeah, that was actually my day — even though he was the first pick and the one getting the money, too.

DB: What did you get paid?

Edgar: I think it was $2,500, or $1,500? I don't remember exactly.

DB: That could go in a week.

Edgar: Plus a little bonus you get once you go up each level.

Adrian: Yeah, that money went in the party he threw [laughs].

DB: Is Adrian too nice of a guy?

Edgar: Yeah, he's a nice guy.

DB: But too nice? Is there such a thing as too nice of a guy? Should he get a little mean out there?

Edgar: Ah, no. I don't think he is too nice. He has a little bit of everything. He's a little stubborn at times.

Adrian: Yeah, I can be stubborn.

DB: You project as a nice guy, as a kind individual.

Edgar: He is!

Adrian: I wish the best for everybody, you know? But I want to beat the crap out of the other team, too.

DB: You just don't wear your emotions on your sleeve.

Adrian: Yeah, exactly. I keep it all to myself.

DB: Edgar, you came into the week fourth in the league in triples. Were they as fun to hit as they were to watch?

Edgar: I think I was leading after the first couple games, so that was my excitement for then.

DB: Adrian, is he the guy in the family with the wheels?

Adrian: Yeah, if you want to consider not having speed, "wheels," then I have wheels too. He's the one who can beat out a triple without the outfielder tripping over himself and with no one else around him [to help].

DB: Edgar, have you kept a jersey from every minor league stop?

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Edgar: It would be a big collection if I kept all of them. I've played almost everywhere. I don't have all of them, but I've kept some of them.

DB: Were you close to quitting at any time?

Edgar: Oh, yeah. A couple of times. That's why I said I'd take on the air conditioning habit.

DB: Adrian, you've gotten mad a couple of times in print, wondering why these teams don't give Edgar a chance. Granted, you have a personal opinion invested in it, but what were they missing about him?

Adrian: There's a very bad thing about baseball and it's called labeling people too soon. When some person, a random person, has labeled a person because they've seen him two total games, all the sudden they know everything about the guy. Then everybody picks up on it and all the sudden, that's what he is. I think scouts are part of the game and they're great, but in order to have a true feeling of a person, they need to see him at least half a year. Not just a homestand. And then they make their decisions off that. A lot of people can get mis[perceived] that way and a lot of people are stuck in Triple-A because of it. It's a shame, but at the same time it's part of the game.

DB: You guys basically grew up hopping the border back and forth. What was that like, having parents drive you around to games in two countries?

Edgar: That was pretty cool. Every Sunday was in Tijuana after Saturdays in the United States and it was baseball year-round for our parents. Our mom was the one driving us around everywhere and it helped us a lot.

Adrian: We're just blessed to have great parents. I think we have the best parents you could ever ask for. I think God every day for our parents. It's special to be able to have your parents there every day for you.

DB: You guys fans of "The Simpsons"?

Adrian: "The Simpsons" cartoon? We watch it sometimes.

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DB: Krusty the Klown on the Simpsons has called Tijuana the happiest place on Earth. Is it?

Adrian: To a person like Krusty the Klown, that would be right [laughs].

Edgar: I don't know, anymore. It used to be.

DB: What happened?

Edgar: Oh, God.

Adrian: Drug dealers.

DB: If the situation were reversed someday, do you think Mexico be kinder to Americans working and looking for work in Mexico than the reverse has been?

Adrian: Whatever brings [tax] income to the nation is good.

Edgar: Getting into Mexico is pretty easy. Whenever you see Americans play winter ball over there, they usually get treated better than the locals. Americans get treated better than the Mexicans themselves. They get their own rooms, they get treated better by the fans; they love them. I think we're a very welcoming nation.

DB: Would the Padres look better if they switched back to the retro brown uniforms for every game?

Adrian: We shouldn't have the khaki road colors, but the retro brown? No.

Edgar: I like the retro brown. I liked the way they looked in the old days.

DB: And you have the little dude on your patch, the Friar?

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Adrian: The colors of the Friar are like blue and red, or something. Blue and orange.

DB: Is it really? It would help if I weren't color blind.

Adrian: It probably would help.

DB: Would the main advantage of PETCO Park be the pet-friendly areas near the outfield that give you guys a place to walk Brian Giles?

Adrian: The time that the park is open, Brian is tanning. It's tough to get Brian out there.

DB: The Padres used to play at Jack Murphy Stadium, which was named after a sportswriter. Can you imagine them naming a stadium after a writer anymore?

Edgar: No, too much money involved.

Adrian: I could see Jerry Coleman. He's not a writer, he's an announcer. It's tough to have it that way because they get so much money from the companies they name the stadiums after.

DB: It's 574 feet to the fence there. How do you hit home runs?

Adrian: I don't; I hit them on the road.

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Previous Answer Men (and Woman):

2009Tom Glavine — April 30 • Joey Votto — April 23 • Joakim Soria — April 16 • Joe Maddon — April 6 • Joe Nathan — April 1 • Jay Bruce — March 25 • Carlos Pena — March 20 • Shane Victorino — March 12
* * *
2008Hunter Pence — April 10 • Justin Morneau — April 17 • David Wright — April 24 • Erin Andrews — April 25 • Andy Van Slyke — May 1 • Derek Jeter — May 8 • Bob Uecker — May 15 • Bert Blyleven — May 22 • Torii Hunter — May 29 • Joba Chamberlain — June 3 • Larry Bowa — June 13 • Zack Greinke — June 20 • Kerry Wood — June 26 • Huston Street — July 10 • Josh Hamilton — July 15 • Milton Bradley — July 24 • CC Sabathia — July 31 • Mike Mussina — Aug. 7 • Jason Bay — Aug. 14 • Cole Hamels — Aug. 22 • Ron Santo — Aug. 28 • Francisco Rodriguez — Sept. 11 • Ryan Dempster — Sept. 18 • Evan Longoria — Oct. 2

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