Ever since the Phillies signed pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez late last summer, there has been very little good news on the Cuban right-hander.
Well, here’s a little.
Gonzalez pitched three innings in an extended spring training game in Clearwater on Monday. According to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., Gonzalez’s fastball averaged 93 mph and topped out at 95.
“We saw that (95 mph) when we were scouting him,” Amaro said. “This was the first time we’ve seen it since we signed him. He was really bringing it. It’s a good sign. He’s progressing.”
When the Phillies signed Gonzalez to a three-year, $12 million contract they hoped he would be able to make their big-league rotation at the start of the 2014 season. Those hopes were dashed when Gonzalez experienced arm tightness in spring training and was unable to crank up his fastball. Later in camp, he developed shoulder soreness, required an anti-inflammatory injection and ended up on the disabled list.
Gonzalez, 27, has responded well to his rehab program over the last five weeks and his velocity has improved.
“He’s free and easy now and his mechanics are better,” Amaro said.
It’s too early to tell whether Gonzalez can help the Phillies this season, but he is close to pitching in official minor-league games. Amaro said he could begin a minor-league rehab assignment around the middle of this month.
Though some scouts believe Gonzalez could end up being a power-armed reliever in the big leagues, Amaro said the plan is for Gonzalez to remain a starter.
“He’s getting there,” Amaro said. “We’ll get him ready as a starter and see what happens.”