There was a sense of relief in the Orioles clubhouse Saturday when starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez proclaimed that his left shin was fine, if a little achy.
Gonzalez had to leave Friday’s game in the fifth inning after being struck in the left leg by a vicious liner off the bat of Philadelphia Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp.
“It's a little sore, but not bad. It could have been worse. No bone, no nothing,” Gonzalez said Saturday. “Everything is fine.”
X-rays on the shin were negative, and Gonzalez is expected to pitch Tuesday against Boston. The Orioles medical staff told the right-hander he couldn’t run Saturday but could play catch. When he was hit, Gonzalez said he worried that he might be badly hurt, but after walking around a little, the anxiety subsided some.
“With adrenaline and all that, you never know what exactly it is,” said Gonzalez, who was 11-8 with a 3.78 ERA in 30 games last year for the Orioles. “That's why they told me to go get an X-ray.”
Gonzalez said Rupp’s liner was probably the “hardest ball [ever] hit back at me. So, hopefully, it doesn't happen to me again. It was scary.”
Orioles pitchers already have had several close calls this spring with comebackers. On Wednesday, left-hander Zach Britton was struck on the right wrist by a line drive, but wasn’t injured.
“It makes you realize from the dugout that you're a pitch away from the dynamics of everything changing. Fragile,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We shouldn't be at that point yet where you just want guys to get out of camp healthy. You've got to play the games.”
Gonzalez dealt with back spasms earlier this spring and was limited to three batters in Friday’s outing, but Showalter believes there is still time for Gonzalez to get caught up to where he needs to be.
“We missed significant time with him last year,” Showalter said of Gonzalez. “We'd really like to have him out there every fifth day. So we’re hoping that’s something we can get behind us in the spring.”
** The 30 Orioles players and staff who flew to Virginia on Friday afternoon in a plane chartered by club owner Peter Angelos returned late Friday evening. The group traveled to Harrisonburg to pay its respects to the family of late Orioles public relations director Monica Barlow, who died at age 36 on Feb. 28 after a protracted battle with lung cancer. Her memorial service was Saturday night.
“She’s part of our family, so we’ve got to show face,” Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said Saturday morning. “Credit goes to Peter Angelos. He set the whole thing up. Everyone gives him flack about not doing this and not doing this. This is the true Peter Angelos, taking care of his family.”
Jones said he wouldn’t have missed joining the group, which also included Showalter and nearly every high-profile veteran on the team.
“She taught me many, many things: how to carry myself as a professional athlete, as a man, and how to handle myself in this business,” Jones said. “Even if Peter didn’t set this up, I would have probably set something up to go up there.”
During batting practice Saturday, the team wore orange T-shirts that read: “Lungevity. Find it. Treat it. Live. In Memory of Monica.”
Showalter said he’d like to see the team wear the shirts during BP throughout the season. He said he felt like the club already took one step in keeping Barlow’s memory alive by going to the Shenandoah Valley and meeting her friends and family.
“It will be something that keeps people talking about Monica for years to come,” Showalter said. “I don't think [the players] fully realize the impact their visit had on her memory for people around that area.”
The club is expected to hold its own memorial for her in April, in Baltimore.
** Infielder Alexi Casilla, who has not played a game this spring yet because of a right hamstring strain, said he is still feeling some discomfort and won’t play this weekend, as he had hoped.
“I was kind of feeling it a little bit. Nothing bad, but … they don’t want me to go back, make it worse,” Casilla said. “They want to make sure that when I start playing, I’m 100 percent ready.”
Casilla said he expects to play Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.
“I want to be there on Monday,” he said. “I told the trainers that.”
** There have been reports circulating today that free agent right-hander Ervin Santana has reached a one-year agreement with a mystery American League team. When asked about those reports, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said, “I haven’t heard that.” Stay tuned.
** Here is today’s afternoon lineup versus the Boston Red Sox in Sarasota. There is also a split-squad night game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla.
Orioles: Markakis 9, Hardy 6, Davis 3, Jones 8, Cruz 7, Young DH, Wieters 2, A Gonzalez 5, Schoop 4. Norris 1.
Red Sox: Bradley Jr., 8, Marrero 6, Carp 3, Middlebrooks 5, Shaw DH, Lavarnway 2, Brentz 9, Holt 4, Ramos 7, Owens 1.