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John E. Gibson

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Gonzalez adjusts to make most of 2nd chance

by John E. Gibson (Jun 2, 2012)

For the Yomiuri Giants, it's more about "Who's at second?" than "Who's on first?"

That's one of the reasons the club brought back infielder Edgar Gonzalez on May 17, taking a second chance on a player it decided to pass on after he appeared in 100 games and hit .263 with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs for Yomiuri in 2010.

Gonzalez, who wasn't re-signed after that season, said his first experience with the Giants taught him that off-field adjustments might be the major key to finding success here.

"I learned a lot, actually," he told The Daily Yomiuri before Wednesday's game at Tokyo Dome. "The first thing I learned is that it's different from American culture and you have to understand and deal with it.

"You have to assimilate to their culture. You stay quiet and stay respectful. I struggled a little bit with the way they do things--I'm not saying it's good or bad, it's just different.

"But this time I think I know what they're thinking. I had a couple of years back home to think, and you have to put your pride aside. As Americans we have a lot of pride, but if you can tone it down a little bit, you end up becoming better with this culture."

Gonzalez went from Japan to the San Francisco Giants' organization before spending spring with the Chicago Cubs. Even after having a good camp he said he wasn't getting much playing time and now he's back with Yomiuri.

Gonzalez, who turns 34 on June 14, has a lot of homework to do to catch up. He has to review the pitchers he used to know, familiarize himself with the new hurlers, study the revised strike zone and deal with the low-impact Mizuno ball.

"I've learned that the strike zone is a little bit bigger than in the United States and how they pitch--they pitch backwards and throw a lot of offspeed stuff," he said.

"And the ball change makes a big difference, actually in the way I take batting practice--how I used to take it and how I take it now. I'm trying to get more line drives and I'm going to try to get more doubles.

"The last time I was here, it was a little bit easier to hit home runs, but now I'm going to just put a good line-drive swing on the ball. It might make me a better hitter, so I'm fine with it."

The revolving door at second base has seen light-hitting players such as Shigeyuki Furuki, Daisuke Fujimura and Ryota Wakiya get a whirl. This season, the Giants have occasionally asked Takayuki Terauchi and Takayuki Takaguchi to play the position.

None has made an impact and Gonzalez said he was looking for a move and a chance to earn regular playing time somewhere.

The Giants have undergone a few changes since Gonzalez was here, most notably Alex Ramirez moving to the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in the offseason and a mostly new crop of foreign players to go along with a pair of former Pacific League pitching stars in Toshiya Sugiuchi and D.J. Houlton.

Even before Sugiuchi's no-hitter on Wednesday, Gonzalez lauded Yomiuri's stacked stable of throwers.

"The pitching is unbelievable this year and that's what's going to carry this team a long way," said Gonzalez, who on Thursday had an RBI single in the second inning of a 4-2 win over the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles for his first hit with the club since Sept. 19, 2010.

The versatile Gonzalez, who got the start at first base on Wednesday, later added another single for the Giants, who are atop the interleague standings at the midway point of games against the PL at 10-2.

He's making the adustments in his second chance...at second.


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