Edgar Gonzalez threw himself into the competition for a spot in the Oakland Athletics' rotation with a solid performance in an intrasquad game Tuesday.
Gonzalez, who spent the past six years with the Arizona
Diamondbacks, tossed three innings against a group of hitters that
included Jason Giambi, Matt Holliday, Travis Buck, Ryan Sweeney and
"I just wanted to go pitch by pitch today," said Gonzalez, who
pitched for Hermosillo in the Caribbean playoffs two weeks ago.
"My curveball was a little flat and I made a couple of mistakes."
Buck had two of the three hits against Gonzalez.
"He looked sharp," Buck said. "He's around the zone and he
knows how to pitch. Those are the kind of pitchers you like to face
as a hitter."
Gonzalez was released by the Diamondbacks last year after
spending the second half of the season on the disabled list with a
right elbow sprain. He went 4-1 for Hermosillo in seven starts with
a 4.46 ERA.
"I'm excited the A's gave me the opportunity to be here," said
Gonzalez, who signed a minor league deal with the club on Feb. 9.
"I want to fight for that fifth spot and if I'm not a starter,
I'll be in the bullpen. Whatever they want, I'm ready for
A's manager Bob Geren said Gonzalez threw nearly 100 pitches in
the playoff game, and expected the right-hander to be sharp.
"I was impressed with Edgar," Geren said. "He threw the ball
well. He had good location, good movement and he changed speeds
with his breaking ball pretty good."
It could be a tight competition for the fifth spot in the
rotation among several candidates, which also includes former San
Francisco Giants pitcher Jerome Williams.
Buck, coming off his worst season when he batted .226 in 38
games with the A's, was glad to see some live action.
"It's a little better than live batting practice because it's a
little more intense," he said. "It's more like a game
Buck thought of last season as a learning experience.
"I never struggled before and now I've gone through that and
saw how I persevered," he said. "I want to prove it to myself
that I belong out there."
1B Daric Barton will be held out of the first weekend
of Cactus League games as he continues a conditioning program.
Barton underwent hip surgery during the offseason. "He feels
fine," Geren said. "He just needs a little more time. He's
slightly behind but he's able to do everything."
LHPs Josh Outman and Gio Gonzalez will throw two innings each when the A's open their Catcus League schedule Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers. Geren said they have each worked on a few small things and this will be his first chance to see how they respond in a game. "Outman shortened up the back swing of his delivery a tad," Geren said. "We felt his command would be a little bit better."
Gonzalez needed to slow his game down. "He's appeared to slow
things down in practice sessions but you never know until you see
him in a game," Geren said. "Sometimes he gets too quick
physically and mentally. One thing he has is a lot of talent."
Geren said if neither pitcher earned a spot in the starting
rotation, they would be candidates for the bullpen.