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April 29, 2011

Gonzalez says Thursday's rough outing was different, encouraging

One of the more interesting developments from Thursday’s game revolves around beleaguered reliever Michael Gonzalez.

The lefty had another rough outing on Thursday in the Orioles’ 6-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

Three of the four batters he faced reached base. He gave up two singles, walked a guy and struck out one. He was charged with two runs and also allowed an inherited runner to score. Yet after the game, Gonzalez said he wasn’t frustrated.

Because he felt like he had it together, mentally and physically, for the first time this season.

“I felt really good today. I felt really comfortable and it just didn’t go my way,” he said. “But I will fight like this all day. I’ll go everyday to work like that feeling the way I felt today. No frustration whatsoever.”

Before you go, “whatttttt?” I guess you should know this: Gonzalez hit 94 and 95 mph multiple times with his four-seam fastball, up from the low 90s in previous outings, and that was noticed by manager Buck Showalter.

“I thought Gonzo probably had the best stuff he’s had this year, as far as just quality stuff,” Showalter said. “Because he’s having some struggles here and there, it’s tough to get him out there enough to get it under control like we know he’s capable of. It’s good to see his stuff get better tonight. If he keeps bringing that type of stuff, he’ll have some success.”

On the pitching side, Gonzalez has been the club’s biggest disappointment. He finished 2010 strong – after a rough and injury-riddled beginning – but couldn’t carry that over to this year. He said earlier this week that his confidence wasn’t shattered. And then said Thursday night that he was excited about how he felt on the mound, even as Showalter took him out and he walked off to what has become a familiar sound of boos from some in the home crowd.

“I was trying to just stay in the moment because I felt so good. I hadn’t felt like that all year. And like I said it had nothing to do with results. To me, it had nothing to do with velocity. To me, it was the way I felt, my rhythm, my motion, everything felt back to where it was before,” Gonzalez said. “Seriously, I didn’t even feel much of that last year when I came back. I am excited about that, I can’t lie. I’m excited about that. Obviously, you don’t want to give up a couple runs. That’s how it is, but to sacrifice a couple runs for the way I felt today, I will do that every day.”

Gonzalez’s ERA is now a robust 13.50. He has allowed runs in six of his seven appearances and doled out nine hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings. The problem for the Orioles is they have no left-handers to fill his place. The other lefty reliever, Clay Rapada, has a 21.60 ERA (four runs in 1 2/3 innings).

And don’t forget Gonzalez is making $6 million this year. The Orioles are on the hook for that if they cut him. But if he can work out his troubles – and we’re talking quickly here – it’s possible they can get some team to take the rest of that contract and maybe throw in a spare part in July. The best case scenario, of course, is that he turns it around and pitches well for the Orioles, justifying that lofty deal. It's hard to see, after Thursday's outing, that such a possibility is on the horizon.

Believe him or not, though, Gonzalez said he thinks that turnaround is coming.

“I feel bad about giving up that run of (Jim Johnson’s). I didn’t want to give up (Johnson’s) run. That’s what I feel bad about. The results, seriously, I don’t feel bad or frustrated whatsoever. What I wanted was to go out there and have my mindset.”

One last Gonzo quote. He was asked about looking angry on the mound Thursday, and this is what he said: “That’s me. That’s what I felt good about. It really wasn’t mad, it was aggressive. I am aggressive. I go right after you. I don’t know where I lost that. I am just glad I found that. Like I said, results are results. But I feel good about it.”

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:00 AM | | Comments (25)


This guy Gonzalez has got to go. His mechanics are all screwed up. He is not effective and continues to give up walks, hits and runs. Eat the millions and give him his walking papers. I doubt that any other team in the league would have him unless they are desperate.

If released, he'd surely clear waivers with that contract. But I guarantee he'd get scooped up for the minimum after that. He's a lefty reliever with a track record who has recently hit 95 on the gun. Plenty of teams would take that chance for little cost.

Dan: Nice article.Palmer has observed Gonzo's mechanics, his falling off to the 3rd base side. Looks like some of his pitches are so far out of the strike zone that he'll never get any of the close calls.Can you see any chance of Mark Connor getting Gonzo back to his form he had at the end of last season?


Connor is a proven pitching coach. He has helped plenty of pitchers return to form. But no one has a magic wand, either. Connor, Adair and Gonzalez are trying, however.

Gonzalez gets himself so pumped up that he looks like he's about to jump out of his skin. He struts around, taking those big breaths and looking like he doesn't feel like he belongs. Before he can command his pitches, he needs to show command of himself. No wonder his control his terrible. He falls off the mound like a guy slipping on a banana. He has plenty of raw ability. He needs to refine it. He sure isn't earning his pay.

...but to sacrifice a couple runs for the way I felt today, I will do that every day.”

Well I sure am glad its all about you and not the team.

Gonzalez should be working out his problems in the minors and not pitching in a game the orioles have a chance to win. Showalter is routinely accepting - and thereby promoting - failure with his pshychobable support

"Believe him or not, though, Gonzalez said he thinks that turnaround is coming."

What! Are you serious!! Get rid of the bum! Somebody correct me but he's done nothing, NOTHING!

Gonzo!? Should be BOZO!

Survey SAYS:


It's interesting to me how some players just get in the doghouse (of the manager, the press) and some don't. There are plenty of guys struggling on this team, and why is it Gonzalez's immediate future which is so in doubt? The fact is, we have no replacement, we owe him $6 million, and we would be a better team if he gets straightened out.

So why all this speculation here? Why not question Reynolds? Or Lee? Or Izturis for god's sake? (Not that I am saying you should, I'm just wondering).

Is it that you reporters take cues from the manager? Is it that Gonzalez is not a helpful player to interview (I know he's been prickly in the past)? If Izturis weren't such a nice guy would his purpose get questioned more? We're on the hook with Gonzalez, we need him to be good, it's still early in the year, there's nobody else, end of story, no?

Dan's Reply: For the record, Gonzalez is extremely accommodating to the media. He has a lofty contract and hasn't lived up to it yet, but is always at his locker and answers questions about his troubles. So, trust me, there is nothing personal against him. Honestly, I am not advocating that they keep him, cut him or use him every day. I'm just presenting his comments and the situation surrounding him. The readers/fans can make their own judgments. Why there has been more focus on Gonzalez's struggles than the guys you mentioned is simple: Gonzalez struggled for a large part of last year with the Orioles as well. It's not just a month's sample size that has fans frustrated. Plus his struggles are coming at key times, given his role. So there is more attention there, fair or not.

The Orioles have got to get rid of this guy. How many times is Showalter gonna send him out there to watch him fail? We need to find a serviceable left handed reliever or no lead will ever be safe.

Gonzalez' mechanics seem too much out of whack for him to be consistent. He reminds me of Mitch Williams. He out of position to field after every pitch and there is no way he can be precise with his pitches.

I never saw him pitch prior to last year...was what we see his motion in the NL?

Plus, his pitch selection was terrible. He blew 2 fastballs by the Cameron then pussy-footed with a slider until he walked him. If his velocity is up in the mid-90's, then why is he throwing a slider on 3-2?

I know Buck will give him enough rope. I just hope he doesn't hang himself with it because too many will blame MacPhail.

The players still have to do what they are paid to do and so far, he isn't.

I must've been watching an entirely different game last night. Really, I fully expected Gonzo to be placed on the DL by 2:00 today for 'arm fatigue.' Improvement? Fine, but he should be 'improving' in triple A or extended spring training, and not in the bigs.

Wow! It looks like Vinny Cerrato might have a real challenger for Biggest Donk in Baltimore...

Gonzo - the Garrett Atkins of the the pitching staff.

That means HE NEEDS TO GO!!!

Everyone makes a bad signing now and again. Just cut him.


Gonzo had good numbers on paper in Pit and Atl. Last year, if you again just looked at numbers, he wasn't bad - 4.01 era, .205 opp ba, decent k/bb ratio.

What bothers me about him, on paper, is his lack of games and innings pitched - about 40 in both for a career average. So is he just not able to handle pressure situations and a heavy workload? Is it more of a mental thing with him, because he seems to have good stuff when healthy, and he's started the past two years almost as if he's afraid.

armando benitez hit the mid to high 90s too.

i'm glad mike feels good about how terrible he's been. that really makes all the loses he has contributed to a lot easier to swallow.

Gonzo has got to go. The front office can afford to eat the three million left on his contract, I don't care, just let him go. He deserves to get booed.

Jeff Z's reply: Just for accuracy sake, there is nearly $6 million left on his contract.

Jeff we had this conversation yesterday,We both realize the amount of money left on his contract, but you can't sacrifice winning games to keep a totally ineffective pitcher. He has lost all his confidence despite what he say's and buck has to. Bite the bullet guy's, just another mistake by the scouting department that has kept this team spinning its wheels. Jeff just take a look at the yankee's, they picked up russel martin, freddy garcia, eric chavez, all have help out immensley so far, there scouts may be wrong sometimes but it just seems like the orioles keep making the same mistakes.

Jeff Z's reply: THeir track record signing relievers certainly is very poor.

Yankee luck...Martin was a good pick-up, but all four, Martin, Colon, Chavez, Garcia, were all coming off injury and the Yankees took big chances, but they have the money to throw away on those chances...they took Millwood as an insurance policy if Colon and/or Garcia didn't work out...all it takes is money...our guys didn't work out...the "Duke" didn't work out...Jakabauskus got hurt...Hardy got hurt...Lee was luck really the residue of design, or just a fatter checkbook???

I will boo this guy whenever I hear his name, or see him sulk off the mound. He does not have quality "stuff" and he will not get it together. This is becoming absurd.

Could he be sent to the minors until he works his stuff out? We saw him pitch very effectively at the end of last year, so we know he is still capable. I doubt anyone would claim him off waivers, which is probably the only benefit of his large contract.

Couldn't be sent to the minors without passing thru waivers. As I wrote yesterday, if the Orioles told him that they want to demote him to minor leagues, he could either accept it (highly unlikely), refuse it, or elect to become a free agent. He's not going to elect for free agency because that means that he would forfeit the nearly $6 million he has left on the contract. And if he refuses it, Orioles would have no choice but to keep him on 25-man roster.

This guy is a joke .. how on earth did he make it to the majors .. get rid of him right now,

This guy is a real head case. Who's he trying to kid? He looks terrible every time he pitches. I expect to see him explode right there on the mound at any time. Please, Buc, do us all a favor.

Until Gonzalez learns how to have good mechanics , he will never be a good pitcher . You may have a good outing once in awhile , but he will never be consistent . This man is all over the place . Why someone hasn't fixed this problem I don't know.
Thank you !

Hello -

My understanding is that Buck Showalter will be escorting the Orioles to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for a tour today in K.C. In light of Luke Scott's "birther" comments related to President Obama's citizenship status in the offseason, someone in Oriole land may want to inquire as to whether Luke took the tour. My feeling is that he needs to learn that history, among other things.


Steve Wisensale
Essex, CT

Long time Oriole fan

@ Steve from Essex CT:

Luke Scott not liking Obama has absolutely nothing to do with his color or the Negro Leagues...not liking Obama doesnt make someone a racist. So sick of that arguement. He is NOT JESUS!!! Get over it.

Scott is not a racist for what he said, but you are a moron for what you said.

And we thought OUR Essex was bad...

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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