SARASOTA, Fla.-- A year ago, Miguel Gonzalez -- who had just signed with the organization after pitching in winter ball -- was a 27-year-old right-hander in Orioles' Minor League camp. On Sunday afternoon, Gonzalez finally made his first appearance in a Spring Training game as a big league player, coming off a 2012 season in which he was one of baseball's biggest surprises, going 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA.
"That was probably in 2007, the last time I threw in a big league Spring Training game," said Gonzalez, then with the Angels, who would come over an extra Minor League player to fill innings. "So, it was fun to go out there and perform."
Gonzalez picked up right where he ended last season, breezing through two scoreless innings against the Phillies and allowing just one baseunner -- a walk to Cesar Hernandez, who was erased by catcher Matt Wieters while trying to steal second.
Gonzalez is penciled in to be one of the Orioles' starting pitchers this season, but it doesn't mean he's OK coasting through camp.
"I think it's got a lot more to do with what he's been through to get here; he's letting it rip," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's not taking one pitch for granted. Out there today, he gives up a two-out routine fly to right [field] and second base is vacated, and instead of kind of walking off the field, he ran to second base in case something happened. Those are the kind of things I notice.
"This guy, he's not assuming anything. You've been where he is. Miguel is trying to make the club."
Gonzalez used mostly fastballs on Sunday, with the unusually cold and windy temperatures limiting the availability of his split-finger pitch, and he was pleased afterward with how he felt. Gonzalez spent the offseason working out in California with vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson -- along with several teammates -- and he looks noticeably stronger this spring. The right-hander never had a specific offseason regimen as he bounced around organizations and dealt with several injuries, and he hadn't lifted weights since college.
"He smiles easily, he's engaging, but he's a competitive guy," Showalter said of Gonzalez, who has an unflappable mound demeanor. "You see him bounce off the mound on a bunt. He competes now. And when he doesn't do what he's capable of doing, he isn't a happy guy. He can, I wouldn't say 'brood,' but he can convey feelings of unhappiness with himself."