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Gonzalez ready to go for Dodgers in Game 1

First baseman has been dealing with lingering back injury

LOS ANGELES -- The playoffs bring a whole set of questions on emotion, expectations and anxiety for the players and coaches involved.

The Dodgers and Mets meet for Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Friday (6:30 p.m. PT on TBS), and for veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, it's the same game, just with higher stakes.

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"The adrenaline, the energy, once you get past that, it's just another game," Gonzalez said. "You tend to be a little more aggressive at the plate and more hesitant on defense. Once you get past that, it's another game, so having experience eases that.":: NLDS: Mets vs. Dodgers -- Tune-in info ::

The Dodgers figure to be starting rookies at shortstop and center field with Corey Seager and Kiké Hernandez. While those making their postseason debut are sure to be champing at the bit to get started, especially after a four-day layoff between the last game of the regular season and Game 1 of the NLDS, the veteran Gonzalez said he won't go out of his way to talk to them before the series begins.

"Let them play the game. If you see something, then you can talk to them. You can't put too many things in their head, they probably already have a million thoughts going through their head," Gonzalez said.

One more expectation for the Dodgers in the postseason is that the players can put in much more preparation since they're facing one team. The Mets have three straight right-handers scheduled to start Games 1-3, which is actually a detriment for Gonzalez. The left-handed slugger is hitting .294 against left-handed pitchers this season, compared to .267 against righties.

"In the regular season, maybe you put in 10-15 minutes per pitcher. Now you put in 30 minutes per pitcher and maybe an hour on the starting pitcher," Gonzalez said. "You just put in a lot more preparation so when the game starts, you're 100-percent mentally and physically ready."

Despite gaudy statistics on the season -- Gonzalez posted a .275/.350/.480 slash line to go with 28 home runs and 90 RBIs -- he was slumping to end the season. Dealing with a lingering back injury, Gonzalez hit .243 in August and .232 in September and October.

Gonzalez went through his normal routine of hitting this week and after four days off, he said he'll be ready to go, although he said he won't know if he's 100 percent until he actually plays in a game.

"I think for the most part, my back didn't allow me to do exactly what I wanted to do, but overall I feel like I'll be ready tomorrow," Gonzalez said. "It's more being hesitant and not being able to let it go and take a full swing. It's being a little more mechanical."

Steve Bourbon is an associate reporter for
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