SARASOTA, Fla. – A year ago, the Orioles hadn’t even signed Miguel Gonzalez. He never made it to big league camp. This year, he’s a mainstay.
For years, Gonzalez tried to get to the majors. The Mexican native who came to the U.S. when he was four, was undrafted out of high school. He bounced around the Angels and Red Sox organizations until signing with the Orioles after spring training started.
“Of course, last year I wasn’t around at this time. Now, I’m with a bunch of my friends that I played with last year,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez was the Orioles second leading winner last year with a 9-4 record and 3.25 ERA.
“Now, I have an idea of what’s out there and what I have to do to be successful like I did last year. I don’t feel any pressure. It’s all about going out there and being your best,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez isn’t assured of a starting spot, but he’s begun camp with an advantage.
“In his mind, he’s not in a different situation than last year,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“He knows how fleeting it can be. I’ll bet you, he knows if you ask him, he’s got options. He pitched well enough to get a little margin of error, so to speak. He’s done it. He knows it’s a competitive place.”
Showalter lauded Gonzalez for working hard with Brady Anderson in the off-season. His weight increased, but he’s body fat decreased.
“Buck’s a tough guy. He wants you to be better each year, just try to accomplish something you didn’t do last year and do it this year,” Gonzalez said.
Last year was a remarkable year for the 28-year-old, whose wife is home in California. His first child is due in June.
“It was crazy last year what happened, and hopefully, I can learn from that and just keep going and start it off right now in spring training,” Gonzalez said.
He’ll stay with the Orioles instead of going off to play in the World Baseball Classic for his native Mexico. Gonzalez badly wanted to play, but decided not to.
“It was a really tough decision I made, not being able to represent my country, but you always have to think about it in the long run. Right now, being around my team, the Orioles, is the most important thing,” Gonzalez said.