Adrian Gonzalez is worth getting to know

The Dodgers' first baseman, run out of Boston, might have trouble smiling, but he gives it his best shot.

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Find the nearest wall, start talking to it, and now you understand what it's like spending time with Adrian Gonzalez.

Upon first meeting it can be a turn-off unless you are into one-way conversations, so we hit it off just fine Saturday afternoon sitting in the Dodgers dugout together.

But somewhere deep into my monologue a knowing smile crosses Gonzalez's face, a sign he's comfortable now and about to reveal himself.

"Take today," he says, raising an eyebrow, his idea of becoming animated. "I'm coming out of the hotel where we are staying and I give some kids autographs and pose for pictures.

"And my wife is telling me, 'Be nicer.'

"I wish I had it in me; I wish I could say to someone, 'How are you doing?' I try to force it, but it feels awkward, feels fake.

"I hear that from my wife every day when we run into a fan: 'Smile.' And the minute I see a fan I'm telling myself in my head, 'OK, now smile. Come on, you can do it.' "

He stops to demonstrate what one of his forced smiles looks like and it's not a pretty sight.

"What's going on in here," he says, pointing to his heart, "just doesn't come out. I love making kids happy; I just hope kids look at the autograph and go, 'Oh my God,' with excitement and don't notice the stone face that's giving it."

There is also no give in that stare when Gonzalez appears before the media, further undermining first impressions.

"People who really don't know me might say, 'He's really a jerk,'" he says. And who knew we had so much in common? "But I'm not trying to be that way."

The Dodgers have Gonzalez under contract for six more years beginning next season, so there's no doubt we're going to get to know him.

We already know he's most likely going to be an MVP candidate here every year.

"I should be because of the ability God has given me," he says.

We know he's wary of the media, time served in Boston doing that to a lot of athletes.

"I'm either going to give you the cookie-cutter answer or I'm going to give you the truth," he says. Fortunately for him, the media in Los Angeles are so much more loving. "You get the cookie-cutter answer when I don't want to answer a question because the truth might bring controversy."

And we know after spending time together the past couple of weeks he's more sensitive than he would probably want anyone to know.

"We're all human," he says. "And we're all going to try and please people."

Gonzalez hurt his shoulder before the All-Star break last season, but never let the media or fans in Boston know. He took a couple of painkilling shots, but as he lost strength in his shoulder, he also lost home-run power.

And yet there aren't many players capable of putting together the year Gonzalez had last season. But a .338 batting average, 27 home runs and 117 runs batted in were still not enough for Boston fans.

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