Adrian Gonzalez’s shoulder surgery may be more significant than initially believed

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Adrian Gonzalez repeatedly making it clear that he has no plans to remain in San Diego long term could motivate the Padres to trade the All-Star first baseman with one season left on his contract and now Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that there’s some doubt about Gonzalez’s health status as well.

Three weeks ago Gonzalez had surgery to “clean up” his right shoulder after playing through pain for much of the season. Initially the Padres said he’d be fully healthy in time for spring training, but yesterday Gonzalez revealed he may not be cleared to swing a bat for 4-5 months.

The four-month mark would come around a week into spring training and the five-month mark would arrive about a week before Opening Day, so based on those timetables any kind of setback could mean missed games in April. Gonzalez’s agent, John Boggs, put a slightly different spin on the timetable:

I think what Adrian is saying it that he’s going to be very cautious and take it a step at a time. He’s the type of player who can pick up a bat and be ready in a week. But what he’s saying is he’s going to take his time and make sure [his shoulder is] ready. The timeline has always been four months. He’ll be ready, but he’s not going to burst out of the gates if he’s not.

It’s an interesting situation because Gonzalez may not be exceptionally motivated to rush himself back from surgery for a team he’s not going to play for beyond 2011, particularly since the strength of his 2011 season will go a long way toward determining the size of his contract as a free agent next offseason. Should he rush back to help a team that may trade him anyway? Should he rush back if it means risking his health and performance on the verge of free agency?

World Series Game 1 will feature Dallas Keuchel vs. Clayton Kershaw

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The Dodgers and Astros have selected their starters for Game 1 of the World Series. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will open the series for the Astros, while fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw will take the mound for the first of two home games at Dodger Stadium.

Keuchel, 29, has been a steady presence for the Astros this postseason. He clinched Game 2 of the ALDS with 5 2/3 innings of one-run, seven-strikeout ball against the Red Sox and returned for his second postseason win with seven scoreless innings against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS. He was outmatched in Game 5 of the Championship Series, however, scattering four runs and eight strikeouts across 4 2/3 innings while the Yankees worked their way up to a 5-0 shutout. Nevertheless, he’s perhaps the Astros’ strongest arm behind ALCS MVP Justin Verlander and has not surrendered a single home run in 17 1/3 consecutive innings this postseason.

Kershaw, on the other hand, has had a less consistent track record in the playoffs. While his postseason yips have been well-documented thus far, his struggles on the mound haven’t always led to disaster — at least not this time around. The Dodgers are 3-0 in all three of Kershaw’s starts this month and enjoyed a quality start from their ace during Game 5 of the NLCS last Thursday. The 29-year-old southpaw recorded his second win of the playoffs with a run, three hits, a walk and five strikeouts over six innings. Unlike Keuchel, he’s given up a home run in each of his outings to date (and four homers in Game 1 of the NLDS).

Game 1 is set for Tuesday evening at 8:00 PM ET. The Dodgers have home field advantage through Games 1 and 2 before the series moves to Houston, and will try to capitalize on that advantage in order to extend their postseason winning streak at Dodger Stadium. They’re 4-0 at home and 3-1 on the road this October, while the Astros boast a 6-0 advantage in Houston and a significantly less impressive 1-4 record away from home.