Padres-Diamondbacks Preview

After struggling in spring training, Adrian Gonzalez is off to a
strong start for the San Diego Padres.

The two-time All-Star looks to help the visiting Padres take
their opening series with a victory Wednesday night against the
Arizona Diamondbacks.

Gonzalez hit .204 with no homers and one extra-base hit in
spring training, but is now delivering when it counts. After
hitting a career-high 40 home runs in 2009, Gonzalez has homered in
each of San Diego’s first two games.

He’s 4 for 9 on the young season, and 10 for 20 with four home
runs and eight RBIs in his last six games against the
Diamondbacks.

“It was a tough spring,” said Gonzalez, who went 2 for 5 in a
6-3 win Tuesday to help the Padres even this three-game set. “But
I’m feeling good at the plate and hopefully it will continue.”

The subject of numerous offseason trade rumors, Gonzalez has
this season plus a club option for 2011 remaining on his deal with
the Padres. After San Diego overcame a rough start to finish 37-25
down the stretch in 2009, Gonzalez feels confident the club can
carry that success over to this year.

“We’re a good team,” said Gonzalez, who’s won two straight Gold
Glove awards at first base. “Every game we go out there, we’re
going to go out there with the mentality that we can win this.”

That was the case Tuesday as the Padres banged out 10 hits and
received a six-inning, one-hit effort from starter Chris Young.
Shortstop Everth Cabrera had three hits and matched a career high
with four RBIs after going 0 for 3 in the opener.

“It’s good to get that first (win) out of the way,” Gonzalez
said. “It’s very important to get a rubber game and have a chance
to take the series.”

After scoring three runs in five innings off Arizona newcomer
Edwin Jackson on Tuesday, the Padres will try to get the best of
Ian Kennedy in the series finale.

A former first-round pick of the Yankees, Kennedy makes his
Arizona debut after missing most of last season following surgery
to remove an aneurysm near his right shoulder.

Kennedy went 1-4 with a 6.03 ERA in 14 games for New York from
2007-2009. Arizona acquired him in the same three-team trade that
netted Jackson – formerly of the Tigers.

“(I’m going to) take advantage of (pitching in the majors),
because I’ve had it before, and when the season came around, I
didn’t take advantage of it,” Kennedy told the Diamondbacks’
official Web site.

The 25-year-old right-hander has never faced the Padres, who
will counter with Kevin Correia.

Correia is coming off a career year, as he went 12-11 with a
3.91 ERA in his first season in San Diego. The former San Francisco
Giant led the Padres in wins and innings pitched (198).

Though the right-hander is a pedestrian 2-4 with a 3.70 ERA in
nine starts against the Diamondbacks, he recorded his first career
complete game and shutout in a 4-0 win at Arizona last Sept.
25.

Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton is 4 for 8 through two
games after recording two hits with an RBI on Tuesday. He’s 14 for
24 in his last six games against the Padres.