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Game One is Done ... Alex Gonzalez ... AL East Roundtable

TWINS DEF. SOX, 6-3
The Red Sox had their first game of spring training last night -- non-televised thanks to those con-artists down in Florida (I'll be hated forever for that comment) -- and it wasn't so pretty.

Here's a bad omen: Jonathan Papelbon received a hardy line drive to the ankle last night, but the good news is he made the play and stayed in the game. All in all, Papelbon pitched 1.2 IP, gave up four hits, two earned runs, a walk, strikeout, and a home run -- on a first-pitch curveball to Torii Hunter.

Nothing too bad in that outing. I hoped for better, but as long as he's injury free then I am a happy camper.

Coco Crisp had a great debut for the Red Sox, wearing number 12 for the home team. Crisp went 3-for-3 with a triple and a double, showing off his blazing speed. Terry Francona said after, "That was pretty exciting. He was pleased and we were thrilled."

Here are highlights and lowlights, thanks to the Boston Globe:

On the positive, Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen pitched a scoreless inning a piece. Enrique Wilson tripled. Tony Graffanino started a nifty 4-6-3 double play in the first inning. On the negative, Rudy Seánez allowed a pair of home runs, Dave Riske allowed one run in relief, outfield prospect David Murphy struck out four times, and infielder Dustin Pedroia had to leave with a strained left shoulder, incurred on a swing

Yes, Pedroia is hurt once again. I'm very scared that he's going to have all the potential in the world but these little injuries are going to hold him back year after year. I really don't want that to be the case. He needs to eat his vitamins.

SHORTSTOP ALEX GONZALEZ
Nick Cafardo has a great story on Alex Gonzalez this morning. I suggest reading it, because it shed some light on our new shortstop that I think people will appreciate.

Here are some snippets that I liked:

"I played with Mike five or six years. He's one of the best third basemen I've ever seen," González said. "I think we were very good out there together and I think the pitchers appreciated what we did for them. That's what you want to do. You want to make sure the pitchers are comfortable with you in the field. The pitchers need to know you can make a play for them when they need it. I take defense very seriously because it's very important. I might go 0 for 4 but I can win a game by making a big play or stopping a ball from going through the infield. I tell guys that all the time. Don't worry about an 0-for, just go out and play hard and field your position. You can win with defense, too."

González tries to keep his workout routine game-like. In other words, he practices like he plays.

"That's what I do in [batting practice] or when I'm taking ground balls," he said. ''I approach it like I'm making a play in the game. I don't try to be fancy or flip it. I make a good strong throw and I try to do everything I would do if there was a ground ball to me in the first inning or the ninth inning. I've always done that."

And what Gonzalez says here makes me think a little:

It's interesting to hear González's take of the American League. Pitchers often talk about how much tougher it is because of the designated hitter. But González, who has spent much of his career hitting at the bottom of the order, said he thinks he'll see better pitches in the AL.

"In the American League, you're going to see a lot more breaking balls and you have to be ready for that," he said. "You have to be more patient [at the plate]. In the National League, you see more fastballs. You see a lot of 2-and-0 fastballs. You see it and you hit it. Here you're going to see more breaking balls. In the National League, you're hitting eighth, you're not going to see as many pitches to hit because the pitcher hits."

His logic is right. In the National League, he was hitting before the pitcher in most cases. If there were two outs and Gonzalez up, the pitcher on the mound would be hoping to have the pitcher behing Gonzalez start the next inning for an easy out, so he'd see tougher pitches. Now in Boston's lineup, when he hits at the bottom of the order he'll be hitting in front of Coco Crisp and most likely behind Kevin Youkilis. That's a much different scenario than in Florida.

Based on this alone, I think we can expect his numbers to get better this season. Will he hit 23 home runs like he did in 2004? No telling, but that sure would be a nice thing to have from our number nine guy. I can see his averaging rising, too.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST ROUNDTABLE: BLUE JAYS
The final part of the American League East Roundtable is up at Bluebird Banter. We talk about a lot of things Blue Jays, which is nice because when we did this roundtable last year, there was no Blue Jays blog. So it was Toronto-less. Something I wish the AL East was this season.