Gonzalez won't return until post All-Star break

Gonzalez won't return until post All-Star break

DETROIT -- Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel confirmed on Monday that closer Michael Gonzalez will not be back until after the All-Star break.

There had been hope, from both Gonzalez and within the organization, that the lefty would be activated at some point during the Orioles' current 10-game road trip, but pitching coach Rick Krantiz said last week that the team wouldn't rush his return. Kranitz likened Gonzalez's rehab to his Spring Training, given that Gonzalez made just three appearances before going on the 60-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain.

"The plan that we have mapped out for him to pitch is probably going to take him all the way past the All-Star break," Samuel said of Gonzalez, who is scheduled to throw Tuesday and back-to-back Friday and Saturday.

Gonzalez threw a scoreless inning for Double-A Bowie on Sunday night and said in a text message that his pitches are getting "crisper" with each outing and his breaking ball, which has been slow to come around, was improved. His velocity, which hasn't been a concern as of late, was in the low 90s and Samuel has said that the Orioles are more concerned with getting his command and offspeed pitches up to snuff.

Gonzalez allowed a home run in one inning at Bowie on Friday and in short-season Aberdeen on June 27, the latter which Samuel said came on a breaking pitch. He also tossed scoreless 1 1/3 innings for Aberdeen on Tuesday. It's all but assured Gonzalez will have to work his way back into the Orioles' closer's role, occupied by Alfredo Simon.