You know it’s extended spring training when...
...Mike Gonzalez is getting his signs from Dashenko Ricardo.
Gonzalez played catch with Ricardo, who spent most of last season at rookie-level Bluefield, before taking the mound for today’s game against a collection of Twins minor leaguers.
With Ricardo behind the plate, Gonzalez allowed a single and walked a batter in his scoreless inning. He struck out two, including the last batter on a 89 mph fastball. The leadoff hitter reached on an error, but was thrown out trying to steal.
Gonzalez threw 19 pitches,11 for strikes. He broke out his fastball, slider and changeup - once taking enough off the slider that it resembled a curveball and confused an Orioles minor leaguer who was charting pitches.
Gonzalez threw an excellent changeup on a 3-1 count and got a called third strike on an 88 mph fastball.
“I wanted to get back out there and throw and see how it went. Obviously, there was no pain so it’s definitely a plus for me,” Gonzalez said. “I’m not looking at anything else right now except going out there pain-free, and it felt good, so I want to say overall it was a positive outing for me.”
Gonzalez’s fastball stayed in the 88-89 mph range, but velocity wasn’t important to him at this stage.
“It’s just the first time out, but I just wanted to make sure I felt good and felt fluid,” he said. “It’s been what, five or six weeks since I’ve been out there on the bump with a hitter up there, so obviously I was a little amped up. I want to get that down, get the energy down, and here we go.”
Gonzalez will pitch again on Saturday, “and then we’ll go from there,” he said.
“I have to build up a little arm strength. I’ve been pretty much taking every other day off. I’ll go out there tomorrow and play catch and see how it feels, and then throw again on Saturday.”
Bluefield pitching coach Larry McCall and Aberdeen pitching coach Scott McGregor monitored Gonzalez’s outing.
“He rushed a little bit, but that’s his first time out,” McCall said. “Adrenaline was taking over and his body was leaking a little bit, but he threw a couple pretty good fastballs, a couple good changeups and a couple good sliders. That was pretty good for his first time out. And he’s healthy. That’s the main thing. That’s a big plus right there.”
In case you were wondering, your body “leaks” when it gets too far ahead of your arm, which causes the ball to rise. It’s nothing that requires a plastic insert in your uniform or a doctors appointment.