Gonzo won’t push for closer role, at least not now

He is back and pitching well, but Mike Gonzalez has not had a save chance since April 9 and that didn’t go well on Opening Day here in Baltimore vs. Toronto.

But now that Gonzalez is pitching like the O’s hoped he would, he is beginning to look ready for another save chance.

He says he would surely welcome that, but won’t push for it right now and that manager Buck Showalter has let him know he is not anointing anyone his closer at this point.

“Buck pretty much told me straight up what he was feeling and thinking and the big thing is to win. At this point, I just want to go out there and get innings in. I definitely feel that I can get the job done, but my main goal right now is to get those wins.

“Right now, does it matter? Not really. What matters is getting a better understanding with this team of what we’ve got going on for next year. I respect that he came up to me and told me what his thoughts were. His top priority is to win.

“He thoughts were, I’m going to go with what I feel best right now and that’s fine with me, I totally understand that.”

Since coming off the disabled list in late July, Gonzalez has pitched 10 2/3 innings to an ERA of 1.69 and opponents are batting just .162 against him in that stretch.

“Give me the ball and I’m ready for any spot. You can see how good a job Koji is doing and Simon too. Last few days, Simon has been a little tired and has gotten his pitches up some more, but these guys have good stuff also.

“I’m not saying I don’t want to be the closer, what I’m saying is I totally understand his thoughts. He’s just getting here and trying to get a feel for everything.”

So he won’t ask his manager right now to give him the ball in the ninth inning, but he makes it clear that his goal is to be the team’s closer in 2011.

“We could have some great arms. I’m looking forward to it. If you ask me about next year, I’ll tell you, I want that spot (closing) next year. But right now, I’ve been out for three and a half months and I’m just going out trying to get some innings,” Gonzalez said.

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