After failing to have his option picked up by the Diamondbacks for 2007, the 39-year-old veteran tries to lead his new team to victory when the NL West rivals open a two-game series at Chase Field on Monday.
Gonzalez played for Arizona from 1999-2006, becoming the franchise leader in games played (1,194), batting average (.298), RBIs (774), and home runs (224) along with numerous other categories. He also drove in the winning run in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series versus the New York Yankees to give the Diamondbacks their only championship.
Gonzalez batted .271 with 15 homers, 73 RBIs and a career-high 52 doubles last season, but Arizona (9-4) announced late in the year that it wouldn’t exercise his $10 million option. He then signed a one-year, $7.35 million contract with the Dodgers (8-4) after J.D. Drew opted out of the last three years of his deal.
“I spent a lot of years there, fun years, but to be honest, I’m very happy here,” Gonzalez told the Dodgers’ official Web site. “I was disappointed I wasn’t in their plans to stay there, but that’s part of the game. I had a great send-off.”
Gonzalez has adapted well so far in Los Angeles, batting .318 with three homers and seven RBIs this season.
“It’ll be funny seeing him out there. I’ve watched TV. I’ve seen him out there in Dodger blue, so it’s not going to be like it’ll be a complete surprise,” Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. “Yet you’re used to seeing him out there in purple pinstripes and we’re not in purple pinstripes anymore. Once you get the first game off the ledger with him out there, then it’s just back to business.”
Arizona and Los Angeles both enter this contest playing well, having each won three straight series and eight of their last 10 games.
Los Angeles beat the San Diego Padres 9-3 on Sunday, the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Andre Ethier, Russell Martin and Wilson Valdez had three hits each for the Dodgers, who stole five bases - their most since Aug. 23, 1999, when they stole seven against Milwaukee.
Ethier had a home run and four RBIs, while Martin extended his hitting streak to seven games.
This contest opens a four-game road trip for the Dodgers, who won the final four contests of their season-opening six game swing.
Brad Penny (2-0, 0.68 ERA) looks to win his third straight start for Los Angeles. The right-hander was dominant in his last outing, allowing just two hits over 6 1-3 innings of a 3-0 win over Colorado on Wednesday.
Penny is 5-2 with a 2.11 ERA in 11 career starts versus Arizona - his second-best ERA versus any opponent. He will be opposed by Edgar Gonzalez (1-0, 4.50), who allowed six hits and four runs over seven innings of a 5-4, 11-inning win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday.
The right-hander is 0-2 with an 11.70 ERA in three career games versus the Dodgers, but hasn’t made a start against them since 2004.
Arizona beat the Colorado Rockies 6-4 on Sunday, as Tony Clark homered twice and drove in three runs. Second baseman Orlando Hudson continued his torrid hitting, going 2-for-3 to boost his season-mark to .412 - tied with the Cardinals’ Chris Duncan for the major league lead.
Hudson is 3-for-7 with a double and a home run during his career versus Penny.
“We’re a talented group,” said Clark, who is batting .353. “We’re a very young group. That being said, these guys come to the ballpark every day trying to be better than they were the day before.”
The Dodgers held a 10-8 advantage in last season’s series against Arizona.