What can we expect from Adrian Gonzalez away from PETCO Park?

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One of the things people have always marveled about with Adrian Gonzalez is the fact that he has been able to hit 30+ homers in four consecutive seasons with the Padres, despite playing half of his games in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball. So, what can we expect now that A-Gone is about to be set loose?

Well, let’s start by looking at his career home-away splits:

Home: .263/.360/.440 with 61 home runs, 214 RBI and an 800 OPS (.279/.383/.438 with 11 homers, 42 RBI and an 821 OPS in 2010)

Away: .303/.376/.568 with 107 home runs, 311 RBI and a 943 OPS (.315/.402/.578 with 20 homers, 59 RBI and a 980 OPS in 2010)

This is the primary reason why the rest of the American League should be scared. Keep in mind, those home-away splits include 29 games with the Rangers in 2004 and 2005. Factoring in only PETCO Park, he has a .267/.367/.442 batting line to go along with an 808 OPS.

Fenway Park isn’t exactly a home-run haven, but it will certainly be a more fair environment, as Bill James Park Indices routinely ranks PETCO Park as the worst park for a left-handed hitter. Gonzalez’s natural inside-out swing should play brilliantly in Boston. His numbers should also see a nice boost thanks to playing plenty of road games at Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards and Rogers Centre, which cater to left-handed power.

So, what can we expect? Assuming he doesn’t have any setbacks with his shoulder, I’d say 40 home runs is a fair expectation for a full season away from PETCO. With a strong (and hopefully healthy) supporting cast in Boston, he also has a very good chance of topping his previous career-high of 119 RBI back in 2008.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.