Showalter talks about Miguel Gonzalez

He is starting on the mound for the Orioles tonight and he might be the biggest surprise on the team this year.

Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez is 6-4 with a 3.62 ERA, one year after he pitched a total of 56 2/3 innings in the Red Sox system, mostly at Double-A, going 0-7 with a 5.40 ERA.

Now he is pitching big games for the Orioles in a pennant race.

The Orioles found him pitching in Mexico over the winter and signed him as a minor league free agent on February 28, after spring training had already started.

“We’ve been fortunate,” manager Buck Showalter said today about the club’s addition of Gonzalez. “It’s about timing sometimes. He got some physical issues behind him. You see the look on his face, he’s just happy to be pitching and competing.

“Fred Ferreira (the Orioles executive director, international recruiting), who was here yesterday, and has been such a great addition for us, saw him in the Mexican League and told Dan this is someone we might want to take a look at.

“Fred has had quite a pedigree of signing really good players with the Yankees when I was there. He won’t take credit for him. He’d be the first to say all the accolades should go to Miguel.”

Showalter is aware that Gonzalez missed all of the 2008 and 2009 seasons dealing with injuries and Tommy John surgery. He pitched a total of 130 innings in the minors the last two seasons and now he’s in the majors for the first time and having success.

“He never gave in and never quit trying,” Showalter said. “It is also a testament to our guys down below. It was about a month or two into the season, he was pitching three-inning stints and we started asking could he start and they started stretching him out and those guys did a great job with him.”

Gonzalez pitched seven shutout innings of two-hit ball the last time he faced the Rays, on Aug. 5, but tonight they got to him right away when B.J. Upton hit a long homer to left to give Tampa a 1-0 lead on the game’s second pitch.

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