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02/10/11 12:08 AM EST

Adrian checks in to Boston's spring camp

First baseman takes part in drill, itching to get into batting cage

Adrian Gonzalez was early to camp, and the Red Sox's new first baseman is hopeful his right shoulder will be early to heal.

Wearing a Red Sox T-shirt and navy shorts in Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday, Gonzalez became the club's first Major League position player to report to Spring Training -- more than a week early. Position players aren't due until Feb. 17.

Gonzalez took part in an on-field workout and said he's able to do everything except hit, a product of an October procedure that cleaned out the labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.

"[I'm] looking forward to getting healthy here in the spring, getting some at-bats," Gonzalez said to a small group of reporters. "I'm taking ground balls, pretty much the full workout other than the hitting. Like I've said all along, I'm very excited about playing on this team and for this organization, but I got to focus on just being ready personally."

Gonzalez could start hitting sooner than expected. He's pleased with his range of motion, and a March 1 target date for him to start swinging the bat could be moved up, pending a doctor's approval.

"I'm good," said Gonzalez. "I just need to go see the doctor and get clearance to hit. I'll probably get that in the next couple of weeks and see where it goes from there."

Things won't be rushed, though. The 28-year-old came over from the Padres this offseason at the cost of three top prospects, and Boston is preparing a heavy financial investment in him, as well.

A long-term extension for Gonzalez, which in December was reported to be a seven-year, $154 million deal, is already thought to be agreed upon, but it hasn't been officially inked.

Gonzalez maintained that he's in no rush.

By holding off on an extension through Spring Training, Boston gets to see if Gonzalez is healthy, and by waiting until after Opening Day to sign the deal, the Red Sox prevent his salary from counting toward this year's luxury tax.

Waiting doesn't seem to be a problem for Gonzalez, who hasn't followed Albert Pujols' example with the Cardinals and set a deadline.

"No, we don't have any deadline or anything like that," Gonzalez said. "When I'm healthy and they see that I'm healthy and we all decide it's time to sit down and talk about something like that, we'll do that at that point. There's no rush for anything at this point. I think the main rush for me is just to get healthy."

According to The Boston Globe, John Boggs, Gonzalez's agent, isn't scheduled to arrive in Fort Myers until March 8. Negotiations were intense in December, and they briefly caused the trade to fall apart. But with progress established by the time the trade went through, the two sides are expected to resume discussions -- ostensibly for the first time since December -- during Spring Training.

Gonzalez is thrilled to begin the next chapter of his career.

"Very excited," Gonzalez said. "It's something I've been looking forward to since the trade was made. I'm here now. It's time to put the emotion aside and get to work and do what I do."

Pitchers and catchers are due to report to the Red Sox's training facility on Sunday, though several players have already checked in, including Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Gonzalez.

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.