Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, an Eastlake High alumnus, spoke at Sports at Lunch on June 20 at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.
Read more about Adrian Gonzalez
Major League education of Adrian Gonzalez
San Diego: The factory
- By Tom Shanahan, San Diego Hall of Champions
Adrian Gonzalez was presented with a certificate listing the 2000 All-CIF San Diego Section baseball team as he stepped to the lectern at the Hall of Champions, and the Padres first baseman reminisced.
“Carlos Quentin, Wes Littleton, Anthony Gwynn, Danny Putnam, Matt Chico … a lot of these guys have made it to the Major Leagues,” Gonzalez said. “I guess it’s an example of why they say San Diego is a hotbed for high school baseball.”
Gonzalez, who was the first pick of the draft out Eastlake High by the Florida Marlins in 2000, was the Co-Player of the Year as a senior along with Rancho Bernardo’s Matt Wheatland, a first-round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers who later suffered arm trouble.
Seven years later, Gonzalez is in his second season of leading the Padres with his bat and glove after he was acquired in a trade before the 2006 season. Just in case he needed a new All-CIF certificate, the Hall of Champions presented a copy from its files — the All-CIF teams are selected for the CIF San Diego Section office under the auspices of the Hall of Champions — when Gonzalez spoke on June 20 at Sports at Lunch.
“I keep in touch with the San Diego guys when we play against each other,” Gonzalez said. “I see Carlos quite a bit since plays for the Diamondbacks. I talked to Matt Chico when we played the Nationals. You’re happy to see them doing well.“
Gonzalez spoke of the influence of his high school coach, David Gonzalez (no relation), and how much he has enjoyed coming home to play for the team he was a fan of growing up. He’s not only a hometown star, but he said the locker room is made up of teammates rather than individuals.
“We’re family and we play for the team; we don’t play for ourselves,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of credit goes to (general manager) Kevin Towers for the kind of players he brings here.”
Gonzalez said he grew up a Padres fan admiring Tony Gwynn, the Hall-of-Famer about to be inducted into Cooperstown, and Trevor Hoffman, the future Hall-of-Famer who is his teammate.
“One thing that has made an impact on me was my second year,” Gonzalez said of his start in the Marlins’ organization. “I weighed 185 and hired a strength coach and went to 225. I also did some hitting at San Diego State with Tony Gwynn, and he asked me why I gained weight. I said it was to hit home runs, but he told me weight isn’t how you hit home runs. It’s your swing. Ever since I’ve worked on my swing. Gaining weight has helped so that I can maintain my strength during the season.”
What else did Gonzalez say? You should have been at Sports at Lunch.