Gonzalez working on adding changeup

Orioles closer Mike Gonzalez has been working a changeup
back into his repertoire this spring, with the hope that he can use the pitch during
the regular season to complement his fastball-slider combo.

“It’s just trying to get my confidence going with that
changeup,” said Gonzalez, who tossed one scoreless inning in Wednesday’s
5-0 loss to the Twins. “I know it’s a good pitch and the coaches tell you
it’s a good pitch, but it’s actually going out there and getting it done and
feeling confident with it.”

Gonzalez said he used the change-up when he came up through
the Minors, but got away from it in previous seasons.  He threw the change several times during
Monday’s game, including two to left-handed hitters, where he says the pitch
has traditionally been the most effective.

“I don’t even worry about the velocity [of the fastball] until
about a week before [regular season] game time, ” Gonzalez said. “That’s when I
really start rearing back and letting it eat. Right now, it’s about trying to get
my location in and working on those pitches.

“So, that’s something that this Spring Training you are
going to see me do a lot of, is just going out there and letting it go. Throwing
that changeup and trying to get a better feel for it.”

Signed to two-year deal in the offseason, Gonzalez underwent
Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2007 and missed most of 2008.
Last season he set career highs in appearances (80), innings pitched (74 1/3)
and strikeouts (90) and has held opposing hitters to a career .209 batting

“I felt good overall,” Gonzalez said of Wednesday’s outing,
his second this spring. “I definitely worked on some things this time as
opposed to [Friday’s where] I was very high, I missed down in the zone. So,
that [was] a lot better [on Monday]. “

Gonzalez had a rocky one-inning debut on Friday -allowing a
run on two hits and a walk — and frequently missed high in the zone. On Wednesday,
he admitted the problem was part mechanics and part excitement.

“I am a little amped,” Gonzalez said. “But it’s also just
try not to rush my body. And I tend to do that sometimes with the swaying when I
don’t have it on right with the rhythm. It kind of makes me rush a little bit.

“So, that’s obviously what I’m using Spring Training for, is
to just get myself ready and the mechanics where they need to be.”

After getting Jason Kubel to fly out, Gonzalez walked
Brendan Harris and yielded a double to Jacque Jones. When Harris came around to
try to score on Jones’ ball, Adam Jones fired to shortstop Cesar Izturis, who
threw to the plate. Luke Scott cut off the throw just several feet in front of
home, but he managed to throw it in time to nail the standing Harris.

Given that it was a Spring Training game, Gonzalez was able
to laugh off the bizarre 8-6-3-2 play.

“I was about to scream at him, I was two seconds from
screaming at him, ‘Let it go’,” Gonzalez said of Scott.  “But you know, that’s what why work on PFP
[pitchers fielding practice]. That’s what Spring Training is for. You don’t see
that during the games or during the season. I kind of chuckled because it was an
out. So, obviously it’s a lot funnier when it’s an out.”

Following the game, manger Dave Trembley pointed out that
Scott shouldn’t have cut off that ball. Trembley was also impressed with the 17
pitches he saw from Gonzalez, citing the increased strike ratio (11/17) from
the veteran lefty.

“Overall, it was a positive thing for me,” Gonzalez said. He
is scheduled to follow up Wednesday’s outing with a one-inning performance Friday
against the Florida Marlins.

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