Gonzalez beats timetable, set to start today against Marlins

March, 12, 2011
3/12/11
10:16
AM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla.--Back in December, just two months after he'd undergone shoulder surgery, Adrian Gonzalez said that if he was playing games by March 20, he'd be ready for the regular-season opener.

Gonzalez is beating that schedule by more than a week. Boston's new first baseman is on the lineup card for Saturday's game here against the Florida Marlins, batting third and playing first base.

Manager Terry Francona said trainer Mike Reinold told him on Thursday that Gonzalez was ready for game action, but held off on an announcement in case Gonzalez experienced a setback. But after hitting off a tee on Thursday, Gonzalez took batting practice Friday and told Francona he was ready to go.

"He'll have a couple at-bats today, take tomorrow off, then have a couple more AB's the next day,'' said Francona, which would place Gonzalez in the Sox lineup for Monday night's nationally televised exhibition against the Yankees (ESPN, 7 p.m.).

"It's another step forward for him,'' Francona said. "He's worked hard. The fact that he's already ready is testament to how hard he worked. We'll get him in, get him out.''

Francona said that he's not concerned about the number of at-bats Gonzalez gets between now and the opener. "He got ready so quick, it won't be an issue,'' he said.

Gonzalez will be facing one of the game's best pitchers Saturday afternoon in Florida's Josh Johnson, who led the National League with a 2.30 ERA last season. Gonzalez has had success against him, batting .364 (4 for 11).

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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