Gonzalez continues to progress at Class A
Righty makes fifth relief appearance; fastball peaks at 95-96 mph
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez made his fifth relief appearance for Class A Advanced Clearwater on Sunday, pitching out of the bullpen on back-to-back days for the first time since joining the Phillies.
Gonzalez gave up a single, struck out his next batter, then snared a comebacker and threw to first base to complete the double play and end a 14-pitch sixth inning against the Brevard County Manatees.
It's been a frustrating year for the Cuban pitcher, who signed a three-year, $12 million deal last summer. Gonzalez dealt with right shoulder tendinitis in Spring Training, built up enough arm strength to finally begin a Minor League rehab assignment for Clearwater on May 15, but made only three starts before heading back to extended spring camp.
Gonzalez was believed to be suffering from a dead arm, not a more serious injury, and he has bounced back well as a reliever. Gonzalez restarted his rehab assignment with the Threshers on June 20 and has posted a 1.50 ERA with eight strikeouts, no walks and six hits allowed in six innings since then.
Threshers manager Nelson Prada credited Phillies pitching coordinator Carlos Arroyo for pointing out that Gonzalez wasn't right the first time he watched him as a starter last month. Gonzalez gave up 10 runs (seven earned) on 14 hits and nine walks while only striking out three in 9 1/3 innings, with his fastball clocking in around 86-89 mph during those three starts.
Now, Prada has a rehab schedule for Gonzalez posted on the wall behind his desk. He doesn't know whether the Phillies intend to keep using the right-hander out of the bullpen, but he is encouraged by what he has seen from Gonzalez over the past few days. Gonzalez's fastball peaked around 95-96 mph Saturday.
"His arm is back. Strength is back. That's what we were waiting for, to see his strength back. He competes," Prada said, noting that Gonzalez has done particularly well with runners on base. "That is when he really has been throwing harder. He takes it up a notch when he got [into] that situation. That's good to see him competing."
Lack of support hindering Hamels' All-Star hopes
PHILADELPHIA -- It's an understatement to say that Cole Hamels year didn't start off the way he had hoped.
The veteran Phillies left-handed starter missed the opening month of the season after his normal Spring Training routine was put on hold due to left biceps tendinitis. His return to the rotation April 23 gave the Phillies a much-needed boost and the club won four times in his first six starts.
While the Phils have lost seven times in his last eight starts, that is no indication of how well he has pitched as he remains in the bottom 50 of pitchers in terms of run support. Hamels, a three-time All-Star with the last appearance coming in 2012, is 2-4 with a respectable 2.84 ERA this year.
Fans can't vote for pitchers, but they can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
• The Phillies collected 13 hits Sunday, but managed just two runs. It is the first time since July 17, 2001, against the Yankees that they had that many hits and scored fewer than three runs in a game.
• Reliever Justin De Fratus extended his scoreless innings streak to 17 straight. Entering Sunday, the young reliever was tied for third with the longest active streak in baseball.
• Closer Jonathan Papelbon continues to make a case for an All-Star Game selection as he added another inning to his scoreless appearances at Citizens Bank Park. Papelbon has not given up a run in 19 straight home outings.
• One day after the Phillies outrighted infielder Ronny Cedeno to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, they traded the veteran to the D-backs for Minor League prospect Raywilly Gomez. Cedeno played just seven games this season with the Phils and went 0-for-9. In Gomez, the Phillies pick up a 24-year-old catcher who has yet to play above Double-A.
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Michael Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.