Possible replacements for Gonzalez
With Mike Gonzalez officially on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to April 10), the Orioles will likely recall one of their final Spring Training cuts, Kam Mickolio, to fill the roster spot.
Mickolio was slowed the final week of Spring Training by a sore groin and was shipped out to Triple-A Norfolk in hopes that he would get healthy and get stretched out to go more than one inning.
Mickolio was praised this spring by manager Dave Trembley for his offseason regimen and early bullpen sessions, even going as far as to say a spot in the ‘pen was the tall, powerful right-hander’s to lose. But Mickolio’s success didn’t translate nearly as well into Grapefruit League games. He allowed two earned runs in 9 1/3 innings stretched over eight appearances, with his walk-to-strikeout ratio (7-10) a glaring statistic.
“I’m disappointed,” Mickolio said when he was sent down. “I’m mad at myself, mostly.
“[I'm mad] for all the hard work I put in this offseason, and the groin injury the last week of camp put me down.”
Now could be his chance to step up for an O’s bullpen in bad shape. Gonzalez was 0-2 with two blown saves and an 18.00 ERA in three games and never quite looked right this spring.
Jim Johnson is currently Gonzalez’s understudy, so he’s the first guy to target, but no one in the Baltimore bullpen really projects as a closer. Johnson has allowed runs in two of his four appearances, as has sidearmer Cla Meredith. Koji Uehara could find himself in the mix for saves but he’s been on the DL (strained left hamstring) and has only just begun throwing bullpens.
Mickolio is a hard-throwing right-hander who projects to be a future closer. Listed at 6-foot-9, 255 pounds, he’s also a pretty imposing guy on the mound. The problem for him – like many big pitchers – is repeating his delivery, which in turn keeps his control in check. In three innings at Triple-A so far this season, Mickolio has walked four batters, allowed four hits and struck out five.
If the Orioles don’t call up Mickolio, there’s a chance Alberto Castillo gets the call. When asked if Johnson would assume the closer role, Trembley told reporters he would consider it. Read: all other options are welcome.