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Adrian embraces Dodgers' community outreach

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Adrian Gonzalez not only has been a perfect fit on the field for the Dodgers, who needed more offense at first base, but he might be an even better fit promoting them off the field.

On Thursday, Gonzalez joined club president Stan Kasten and the Dodgers' Spanish-language broadcasting team for the first Dodgers Spanish Radio Upfront with Univision America at Dodger Stadium.

It was the latest in a string of promotional appearances for Gonzalez, who grew up in Southern California and embraces the opportunity to reach out to the Latino community on behalf of his employer.

"It's part of the job. It's what we should do," said Gonzalez, who made similar public appearances during his five years playing for the Padres in San Diego. "I want to give back to the community and get involved. It's an easy decision to say yes to."

Gonzalez joined Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, Pepe Yniquez and Fernando Valenzuela, who three decades ago was the trailblazer for the Dodgers in the Mexican-American community.

"Fernando put the Dodgers on the map," said Gonzalez. "I would love to follow in his footsteps and really embrace the Mexican community in Los Angeles and, really, all over the world. I'll do what I can. It all starts with what we're doing on the field."

The latest news on the field is the arrival of new hitting coach Mark McGwire. Gonzalez, who lives in the San Diego area, said he'll reach out to McGwire, who lives in Orange County, to arrange a few hitting sessions before Spring Training starts.

"He brings an incredible track record and I'll have a lot of questions for him," said Gonzalez. "We met and talked last Spring Training. It was short, but we talked about hitting. He said he liked my approach and I told him I watched him hit and looked up to him. It was great for me at the time."

Gonzalez said he shuts down in the offseason and won't resume hitting until January. That will leave him more time to mix with Dodgers fans and corporate sponsors at events like Thursday's.

"The people I talk to, everybody is excited and anticipating the 2013 season," he said. "I think with the Giants winning the World Series, the fans want to take the title back. It's the rivalry. They want us to win the West and bring it back here."

Gonzalez said the passion of Latino Dodgers fans has not come as a surprise.

"It's what I expected," he said. "When I was playing with the Padres, I saw it, and living my whole life in the area I saw it, even though I wasn't wearing the uniform. That's one of the reasons I was really excited about the trade. I know how strong the Dodger following is."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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