Phillies still exercising patience with Gonzalez

Phillies still exercising patience with Gonzalez
February 21, 2014, 4:00 pm
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Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is "still a little bit of a mystery" to Ryne Sandberg. (USA Today Images) 

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The evaluation of pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez continues in Phillies camp.

The Cuban defector threw his second live bullpen session Friday. He drew a crowd of evaluators that included manager Ryne Sandberg.

Sandberg didn’t exactly gush over Gonzalez’s performance when asked for his impressions.

“Um, well, he’s a guy that’s coming back from injury and hasn’t pitched competitively really for a couple of years,” Sandberg said. “I know that we’re using a lot of patience with him. That’s really the biggest part of the strategy with him so we’ll see how things go and how he progresses and really see what that looks like.

“He’s still a little bit of a mystery to me. I know the facts about him. Those are the things that stand out. I want to see progression and how he is from one time to the next and see how that looks.”

Clearly, Sandberg has not been blown away by Gonzalez. No one in camp has. Gonzalez’s stuff doesn’t jump out at you. His control has been spotty.

Though Gonzalez is a candidate for a spot in the season-opening starting rotation, it’s getting more and more difficult to see that happening. When Gonzalez signed with the Phillies in late August, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said he hoped the right-hander would be in the rotation in 2014. Since then, expectations in the pitcher seem to have ebbed. The Phillies exercised patience with him during the Florida Instructional League -- he did not throw a competitive inning -- and still continue to do so.

Ultimately, Gonzalez's performance in Grapefruit League play will dictate whether he opens the season in the majors or the minors.

Grapefruit League play starts Wednesday when the Phillies host the Blue Jays. The Phillies will play an intrasquad game the day before at noon at Bright House Field. It will be open to the public free of charge.