Gonzalez's relief making O's take notice

Gonzalez's relief making O's take notice

BALTIMORE -- Miguel Gonzalez, who could be on his way back to the Minors as soon as Saturday, has been using his performance on the mound to make the case that he deserves a spot on the Orioles' Major League roster.

Since being called up to provide an extra arm in the bullpen during a stretch when the Orioles only needed a four-man rotation, Gonzalez has given up just two runs in 7 1/3 innings.

The righty has made two appearances -- May 29 against Toronto and Thursday against Tampa Bay -- and in each he gave up his only run in his first inning, following with multiple scoreless frames to keep Baltimore close in games during which the starter struggled.

"He's shown me that he scuffles a little bit in the first inning and pitches well after that," manager Buck Showalter said. "You can see why he was doing well in Triple-A. Command the fastball and it opens up a lot of avenues to you. He's pitched well."

Gonzalez was signed as a Minor League free agent in February and called up from Triple-A Norfolk on May 29 to take Tommy Hunter's spot on the 25-man roster.

Gonzalez had been used as both a starter and reliever at Norfolk, compiling a 1.50 ERA by allowing only 10 hits and five walks with 36 strikeouts in 30 innings.

The key to the 28-year-old career Minor Leaguer's success has been his low-90's fastball, which he's thrown on nearly 80 percent of his pitches since being called up.

The use of the fastball has allowed him to attack the zone, as he's thrown 74 of his 109 pitches for strikes.

Showalter said the organization was experimenting with the idea of using Gonzalez as a starter, an adjustment that may be easier to make in the Minors.

"I don't know, we'll see," Showalter said. "Obviously we've got to make some room if we make a move for a starter tomorrow. We may not have to."