Miguel Gonzalez stays under the microscope

Miguel Gonzalez stays under the microscope
February 15, 2014, 4:00 pm
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Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Phillies just before Labor Day. (AP)

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Phillies newcomer Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez threw his second bullpen session of the spring Saturday morning and once again drew a gaggle of onlookers.

Manager Ryne Sandberg, GM Ruben Amaro Jr., pitching coach Bob McClure, and front office advisers Pat Gillick, Charley Kerfeld, Dallas Green and Ed Wade were just a handful of folks who peeked in Gonzalez’ workout.

The right-hander from Cuba remains an uncertainty in this camp and team officials are trying to gather all the information they can about him.

One of the things they’ve learned so far is that Gonzalez throws a lot of different pitches.

“Fastball, curveball, changeup, cutter, splitter, knuckleball, sinker,” Gonzalez said in October.

McClure would like to see Gonzalez trim his repertoire.

“He can throw six or seven,” he said. “But we’re trying to narrow it down, keep it to three or four – fastball, slider, change, curve.”

That would fit with McClure’s keep-things-simple philosophy.

Gonzalez signed a three-year, $12 million contract just before Labor Day.

“I hope he slides into our rotation for 2014,” Amaro said on the day the deal was finalized. “Great stuff. We’ll see how it translates at the major-league level.”

Gonzalez has been in Clearwater throwing bullpen sessions since mid-January. He has yet to show that “great stuff,” at least in his first two official bullpen sessions and has not thrown strikes consistently. But it’s early.

“He looked more fluid today,” McClure said after Saturday’s workout. “He threw a little longer, playing long toss. He got a little looser. He looked better today.”

Phillies officials may be tempering their short-term expectations of Gonzalez. Once Cole Hamels gets back on schedule after an offseason bout of shoulder tendinitis, he will join Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett at the top of the rotation. (Burnett is expected to arrive in camp Sunday.) The current belief among team officials is that Hamels won’t miss more than two April starts. Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez are expected to hold down the fourth and fifth spots once Hamels returns. That could leave Gonzalez heading to the minors for seasoning.

But, again, it’s early. Gonzalez could change everything if he pitches well in Grapefruit League play.