Pitching is the strength of our club by design. Combine that with some timely hitting and strong at-bats, and we can win a lot of games. I like the way we're built, and I like our chances of winning the National League West this season.

It's still early, and we've been a little up-and-down so far. That's expected in the first month. We're confident that, in the long run, our pitching will be the difference. When we run into some of the good pitchers in our own division, we'll be able to keep things close and win some low-scoring games. Offensively, we need to concentrate on stringing quality at-bats together, one right after another.

We're in a good position as a team, and I'm very optimistic. This is one of the best teams we've had since I came here. My job is to be a guy who contributes to getting our team into the playoffs. A good player does that.

Winning games is the objective. I don't think a guy would be happy if he won an MVP award and his team didn't make the playoffs. In baseball you need to be a good team player first. That's what I strive to be.

The numbers I've put up since coming to San Diego are directly linked to the opportunity I've received on this club. You can't have any kind of success if you're not given the opportunity. I have had some great hitting coaches along the way, too, and I've listened to their advice.

In the end, they're just numbers. They don't carry much meaning unless you win. If we don't make the playoffs, then it's not a good year, period. I don't draw confidence off of numbers. I draw confidence based on whether I helped the team win or not. If we don't win on a given day, then it wasn't a good day.

Since he joined the Padres in time for the 2006 season, Adrian Gonzalez has emerged as one of the game's finest all-around first basemen. In '06, he hit .304 with 24 home runs and 82 runs batted in, and last year he set new career-highs in homers (30) and RBIs (100).