Phillies Notes: Phils trying Gonzalez as reliever at Reading

Posted: July 04, 2014

MIAMI - When the Phillies spent $12 million on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez last summer, they expected the Cuban righthander to slot into their rotation. But Gonzalez encountered shoulder soreness, and Ruben Amaro Jr. said the pitcher's stuff "started to break down" at the 40-pitch mark. Those are not optimistic signs from a 27-year-old arm.

So Gonzalez, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list Wednesday and optioned to double-A Reading, will pitch as a reliever for the remainder of 2014. Could he ascend to the majors in that role?

"A lot of it depends on how well he pitches," Amaro said. "Can I see it? If he throws 96 or 97, or 94 or 95 and gets people out consistently, yeah, why not?"

Gonzalez, who turns 28 in September, made three starts at single-A Clearwater with a 6.75 ERA and nine walks in 91/3 innings. He stopped his throwing program because of fatigue and returned as a reliever. That, so far, is a better look.

He tossed six innings of relief for Clearwater and allowed one run with eight strikeouts and no walks. Amaro said Gonzalez's fastball reached 97 m.p.h during those shorter stints. The team will reassess his role after the season.

Gonzalez pitched a scoreless inning for Reading Wednesday night with two strikeouts, a walk, and a hit.

Gonzalez's salary this season, no matter where he pitches, is $2 million. The Phillies paid him a $5 million signing bonus last year. They included language in the contract that suggested the Cuban could become a reliever; there are incentives for various plateaus beginning with 30 appearances.

Mike Adams swapped spots with Gonzalez, moving onto the 60-day DL. Beset by shoulder problems, the righthanded reliever has not yet been cleared to throw. He cannot return until Aug. 6 at the earliest. It could be longer.

Brown inactive

Domonic Brown was placed on the paternity leave list and will rejoin the team this weekend in Pittsburgh. He can remain inactive for up to three games.

The Phillies recalled outfielder Aaron Altherr from double-A Reading to replace Brown. John Mayberry Jr. started Wednesday in left field.

International market

The Phillies spent $1.55 million to sign two 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstops on the first day of the international signing period. Arquimedes Gamboa signed for $900,000 and Daniel Brito signed for $650,000. Both were ranked in Baseball America's top 30 prospects.

Jhon Nunez, a lefthander from Panama, signed for $90,000.

Extra bases

Catcher Wil Nieves (strained right quadriceps) started a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and could be activated by Friday. . . . Just one player from triple-A Lehigh Valley was named to the International League's all-star team: Luis Garcia. The righthander has a 0.35 ERA in the minors and a 12.71 ERA in the majors this season.

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