Gonzalez wants to reclaim closer's role

Gonzalez wants to reclaim closer's role

BALTIMORE -- Make no mistake, Michael Gonzalez wants back the Orioles' closer role.

"That's the reason I signed here," Gonzalez said prior to Tuesday's game. "There were three or four other teams I could have gone to. People said it was because of the money, it wasn't because of the money. It was because of the opportunity I was going to get here."

A free agent signed to a two-year, $12 million deal this offseason, Gonzalez was booed by the fans at Camden Yards in the Orioles' home opener and pitched to a 18.00 ERA -- courtesy of two blown saves -- in three outings before hitting the 60-day disabled list.

Since returning on July 21, he has a 1.13 ERA (1 ER/8 IP) in seven outings and has showcased a cleaner delivery, improved velocity and command. Gonzalez says it's just simply a byproduct of finally being healthy.

"It s one of those things where I feel better overall," said. "I had three outings [earlier this season] and I was hurt, so it's not like I really lost the job."

Still, Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel relied on Alfredo Simon in the ninth inning and new manager Buck Showalter will have to make that decision going forward. Gonzalez, who tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings in Tuesday's 6-3 win, said he doesn't plan on talking to Showalter about being the team's closer. He'd prefer his pitching does the talking.

"He knows what's going on," Gonzalez said of Showalter, who has made it clear he has substantial research on his new team. "You put who you feel is the best pitcher out there [to close].

"I'm not going to go in and state my case. It is what it is. I am just going to show it with my actions every time I'm out there."