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Miguel Gonzalez said he feels better, but he's still unsure about Saturday's start

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Miguel Gonzalez’s stiff right oblique muscle felt much better Thursday, two days after he suddenly woke up with pain in his side, but the Orioles still face the possibility of placing the right-hander on the 15-day disabled list.

Gonzalez was scratched from his start Thursday on the road against the Texas Rangers, and the club hoped he might be able to pitch Saturday against the Oakland Athletics at Camden Yards.

At this point, however, that seems unlikely. Gonzalez won’t throw until Friday, so he likely wouldn’t make a start the following day. There is an outside possibility that he could start Sunday.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he doesn’t expect to make a decision on Gonzalez until after his throwing session Friday.

“Until he puts a ball in his hand and throws, it’s just impossible to handicap it,” Showalter said. “He’d have to really go, ‘Gosh, I feel nothing, this feels great,’ to be a candidate for Saturday. But how do you know he’s going to come in the next day and feel the same? You can’t have a starter spit the bit in the first inning and then have to cover eight more innings.”

Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Kevin Gausman, who was removed from his start Wednesday after one inning and 26 pitches in case he’s needed in the major leagues, is an option to start Saturday. He will travel to Baltimore on Friday and be on the club’s taxi squad.

Another possibility is left-hander T.J. McFarland, who tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings in the Orioles’ 6-5 win over Texas on Wednesday.

Since Gonzalez last pitched Friday in Houston, the Orioles could place him on the DL and have him not miss much time. Putting players on the DL can be backdated up to 10 days, and a move with Gonzalez would be backdated to Saturday. He would be eligible to return June 15 at home against the Toronto Blue Jays, so he could return after missing just one more start and give himself the time to completely heal.

Gonzalez said his oblique muscle felt much better Thursday, and he said he believed he was at “90 percent.”

“It's a lot better,” Gonzalez said. “We’re not sure if I’m going to be able to throw Saturday, but based on what I feel today, and what I was feeling earlier, I think it’s a lot better. Maybe I make the start Saturday or Sunday. I don’t know. Definitely, I’m not thinking about going on the DL. That’s for sure.”

An MRI performed Wednesday on Gonzalez’s right side was negative.

“Just a little swelling,” Gonzalez said of the MRI. “Maybe I pulled it a little bit, but it wasn't too bad, like in my oblique. But it feels a lot better, so I'm happy about it.”

Gonzalez has spent time on the DL just once in his three-year major league career — last May with a right thumb bruise.

eencina@baltsun.com

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