Monday, February 8, 2016

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez: a bullpen piece?

Last July, the Phillies came to an agreement to sign Cuban free agent pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. There has been little positive to say about the righthander ever since, at least until Wednesday, when he returned on the team's radar.

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez: a bullpen piece?

Phillies pitcher Miguel Gonzalez. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Phillies pitcher Miguel Gonzalez. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

MIAMI - In the next 4 weeks, there could be more than a few changes to the Phillies' roster, including in the bullpen.

While the relief corps is home to the team's most promising crop of youngsters (Jake Diekman, Ken Giles, Justin De Fratus, Mario Hollands, et al.), two veteran relievers could move on before the July 31 trade deadline: closer Jonathan Papelbon and setup lefthander Antonio Bastardo.

If and when one or both of those guys go through the exit door, it could open up a spot for the second-priciest pitcher the Phillies have signed in the last year: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, who signed a 3-year, $12 million deal last August, was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday and optioned to Double A Reading.

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After beginning his Phillies career with three starts at Class A Clearwater in May (0-2, 9.00 ERA), Gonzalez has worked out of the bullpen in the last 2 weeks, with encouraging results. Gonzalez, who turns 28 in September, had a 1.50 ERA in five relief appearances with Clearwater, giving up six hits, while striking out eight and walking zero in six innings.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Gonzalez, who has battled shoulder woes since he arrived in Clearwater last fall, would continue to pitch of the bullpen this season.

"Right now, he is, until the end of this year," Amaro said. "And then we'll try to stretch him out if we think he can. His biggest issue is when he got into 30 or over 40 pitches, his stuff started to break down. So we wanted to make sure that we get him pitching this year. He's been feeling good. So we've gone with shorter stints to see how he does."

Amaro said Gonzalez recently hit 97 mph on the radar gun, too.

"He got [ticked] off at somebody [on the other team]," Amaro said. "He got a little [rambunctious]. He got up to 96-97. We'll see how [rambunctious] he can get."

If Gonzalez continues to have success in a relief role at Reading, he'll be on the major league radar before long.

"It's possible," Amaro said. "We'll evaluate him like we do anybody else."

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