TAMPA, Fla. — Cuban import Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez made his long-awaited Phillies debut Saturday, and while erratic, the rookie showed some promise.
Gonzalez, who hasn’t pitched professionally in more than two years, entered the scoreless Grapefruit League game against the Yankees in the third inning. Effective with his offspeed offerings, he promptly recorded two strikeouts of nonroster invitees Corban Joseph and Mason Williams.
Gonzalez’s command began to waver after Brett Gardner singled to left field. Working from the stretch, Gonzalez then walked Derek Jeter and Brian McCann to load the bases. He got out of the 30-pitch inning when Brian Roberts grounded back to the mound.
Gonzalez led off the fourth inning by issuing two more walks. Ichiro Suzuki then knocked in the first run of the game on a fly ball to right field. Though he retired the next two hitters – with a wild pitch mixed in – Phillies coaches ended his afternoon.
In total, Gonzalez pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits and four walks. The Phillies (1-3) would go on to lose 4-0 to the Yankees (2-2) at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
The Yankees deputed an import of their own, Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, whom they signed to a seven-year, $155 million contract this offseason.
Tanaka entered in the fifth, in relief of CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, who combined to strike out three in four shutout innings. After a Darin Ruf single, Tanaka retired the next three hitters he faced, getting Cody Asche and Cameron Rupp to fly out and striking out Cesar Hernandez. The Phillies couldn’t muster much of a threat against him in the sixth, either, striking out twice more.
Reliever Jeremy Horst, competing for a spot in the Phillies bullpen, struggled with his command as well. With two outs and a runner on second in the seventh inning of a 2-0 game, Horst walked two Yankees reserves to load the bases. Outfielder Adonis Garcia, Suzuki’s replacement, singled home two runs to put the game out of reach.
The Phillies travel back across the bay back home to Clearwater to take on the Pirates at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. A.J. Burnett is scheduled to make his first start of the spring.