O's lefty Michael Gonzalez pitched a 1-2-3, top of the sixth tonight here at Aberdeen, getting a strikeout and two groundouts. He threw 13 pitches, eight for strikes, in his seventh injury rehab performance.
Gonzalez, whose fastball was clocked between 89 and 91 on the Ripken Stadium radar gun, felt quite good about his one-inning stint against the Lowell Spinners. Another gun reading had Gonzalez topping out at 94.
"Every time I'm going out it feels a lot better, man. Breaking pitch is more crisp, fastball feels like it's got more to it. So, everything is on the up, up. Control is good, so I'm thinking a couple more outings, the first day after the All-Star break, I should be coming back."
Gonzalez said his next test will be to pitch in back-to-back games this Friday and Saturday for Bowie. He is then scheduled to pitch here again at Aberdeen next Tuesday. If all is still going well after that, he hopes to be activated out of the All-Star break.
"Velocity is fine right now, it's definitely come a long way. It's something I don't need to push right now. Last outing, it was anywhere from 90 to 94 at Bowie. So, if I'm 91 to 92 today, that's fine. The big thing for me today was getting my breaking pitch. My breaking pitch was not as sharp as it should be. I'm very pleased with the break and the bite I was getting today."
Gonzalez said he has had no discomfort in his left shoulder.
"The big test will be Friday and Saturday in Bowie. That will be the first time doing that all spring, so that's going to be a big factor there. The way I felt today was good, so it's a positive."
Gonzalez said he was throwing a hard curve with good bite and depth tonight, better than the breaking pitch he has been throwing.
Gonzalez's injury has been listed as a strained left shoulder.
"No, I've got two tears in the rotater cuff, it's not a strain, I've got two tears and some fraying in my labrum. It's something I've got to work through. I'm going to have a little discomfort every once in a whlle, but's it's something I understand that I have. I had to solidify all the muscles around it and it's been progressing really well."
Gonzalez said he found out the extent of his injury when he had an MRI right before he went on the DL in April.
"You can go into any pitcher's arm and they're going to have some wear and tear in there. I'm 32 years old, I've been doing this for a long time, so I'm going to have some wear and tear. It's just strengthening the muscles around it and they've done a good job with me."
Gonzalez actually faced the Red Sox top draft pick from this year, Kolbrin Vitek, number 20 overall, to leadoff the sixth and struck him out on a 2-2 pitch. He then faced their supplemental first-round pick, number 36 overall, Bryce Brentz and got him to groundout to short. Then he got Brandon Jacobs to groundout to short to wrap up his quick inning.
"Mentally, I felt ready yesterday. It's one of those things, the physical part let's you know what is going on. You can be mentally ready, but your shoulder is not acting like it should. Now I definitely feel the progression and I feel good about the situation."
Gonzalez wants to get back because he knows the Orioles' fans have not seen him at his best yet for sure.
"Of course not, it was not the way I wanted to start out. But I know the reason the Orioles signed me to a two-year contract. They know what I am capable of doing. If I'm healthy, I know what I do and the numbers don't lie.
"At the beginning it was frustrating and I definitely didn't agree with a couple of things. But at the end of the day, it was the right thing to do. As a competitor you want to be out there no matter what, even if you are feeling pain. You're a gamer and and you want to be out there as many times as possible. That was my problem then. We've come a long way since."
The final from Aberdeen was IronBirds 6 and Lowell 2 tonight as the Birds won for the fourth time in the last five games.