Shoulder soreness slows Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

SARASOTA, Fla. — The chances of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez filling a much-needed rotation spot in April were dimmed by his drab spring performances. His immediate fate — a trip to the minors — was all but sealed Wednesday when he did not board a bus to Ed Smith Stadium with his Phillies teammates.

Gonzalez, the $12 million import from Cuba, was scratched from his third scheduled Grapefruit League appearance because of right shoulder soreness. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Gonzalez could return sometime this week.

Phillies doctors examined Gonzalez earlier in the week.

"We're always concerned about guys who are sore," Amaro said. "But that's all it is right now. He is day-to-day."

Gonzalez, 27, is still adapting to the differences in training between Cuban and American baseball, specifically the rigors of arm and shoulder strengthening. He is the latest in a litany of Phillies starters who succumbed to a shoulder ailment; Cole Hamels, Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin and Adam Morgan are sidelined with varying degrees of severity.

Gonzalez's first two spring games yielded a 16.87 ERA. He allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings. He failed to control his fastball and issued six walks.

The Phillies are hopeful Pettibone can reinsert his name into the fifth-starter competition. The 23-year-old righty threw 40 pitches to hitters in live batting practice Wednesday, and could pitch in a Grapefruit League game next week. Pettibone, though, will require time to build stamina.

The Phillies will not use a fifth starter until April 14, and Amaro would not yet include Pettibone as a candidate.

"Maybe," Amaro said. "But we're just going to progress him at the rate he is able to go. We're not going to try to rush him. We'll see how he feels tomorrow. Hopefully he has a chance to pitch in some games soon."

Pettibone's shoulder soreness lingered from the end of 2013 into this spring, and prompted the Phillies to inject him with cortisone Feb. 17.

Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.