BOSTON -- For the second straight year, Adrian Gonzalez and his wife, Betsy, used a Red Sox off-day to help more than 200 kids get ready for the new school year.
Gonzalez gave the Red Sox Scholars -- 220 of them spanning from incoming seventh graders to college juniors -- $125 apiece to spend on the things they need at Target.
"Just seeing smiles, seeing the parents," the first baseman said as kids shopped around him at the South Bay Galleria in Dorchester, Mass. "Most of the parents come up to us and are very thankful for this, it really helps them out. Seeing the smiles on the kids and the fact that they got all the supplies they needed, maybe a shirt or two that they really liked."
Last year, all the money the Gonzalez family gave at Target was dedicated to school supplies. This year, they upped the amount and made an allowance beforehand for clothes and other things that parents can't always afford.
"Last year it was $100 for school supplies," Gonzalez said. "Most of the kids, when they got to the $70 range, they didn't know how else to fill it. A lot of kids came up to us and asked if they could get a pair of shoes and a shirt, something like that. So one of the ways to improve it this year was to make it $125 per kid and make it a 65-minimum for supplies, and they could fill the rest with clothing."
On the field, Gonzalez has been on fire since the All-Star break. His 1.065 OPS is tops among all Major League first basemen in the second half, as his .369 average.
The timing only helps his philanthropic efforts: He came into the off-day with homers in two straight games, and for every time he goes deep in the second half, he's donating $5,000 to the Jimmy Fund. Right now he's at nine home runs, or $45,000.
"It's been a good stretch where I feel pretty confident at the plate and just continue to just try to have good at-bats and keep the feeling going," Gonzalez said. "We're focused, we're out there trying to win every game. Just gets more and more frustrating every time the game ends and we end up losing."
On the season, Gonzalez is hitting .307 with 15 home runs and 85 RBIs.
The other big-name player who joined the Red Sox before the 2011 season, Carl Crawford, is done for the season because of Tommy John surgery. That will put more of the offensive load on Gonzalez's shoulders, and those of his teammates, as the Sox try to make a late run at the playoffs, but Gonzalez is understanding. He wants Crawford at full strength.
"The biggest thing for us is to have him 100 percent healthy," Gonzalez said. "We know the kind of player that he can be, the kind of impact he can have on a game. Whatever we need for him to be 100 percent healthy ... We've got guys that can step in, but you know he is definitely a big part of our success and so we saw what he's capable of doing."
Gonzalez -- a left-handed thrower like Crawford -- can understand the pain Crawford has likely been feeling. He had a similar tear in his throwing elbow that doesn't bother him at first base these days, but it has been a source of discomfort in the past.
"I have a similar, not similar because it's scarred over, similar tear," Gonzalez said. "Playing first base I don't have any feeling from it, it doesn't bother me, but when I did play outfield I did start feeling it. ... Scarred over. Still, I can see how much pain he probably goes through every day."