Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, whose Cinderella 2012 season ended with an invitation to pitch for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, has decided he won’t participate in the March tournament.
Gonzalez, 28, rose from being a minor league free agent to becoming one of the Orioles’ most dependable starters late in the season. He pitched 220 innings last season — including winter ball in Mexico and the minors and majors — and the team made every effort to give Gonzalez extra rest down the stretch.
“It was a tough decision because obviously I wanted to represent Mexico, but you always have to think about what’s going to happen in the long run,” Gonzalez said Thursday during the team’s minicamp. “I think it’s more important for me to be with the team.”
Gonzalez, who was 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 18 games (15 starts) with the Orioles, wanted to represent his country — he was born in Guadalajara and moved to Southern California as a child — but he said it was important to not miss any time of his first big league spring training and the opportunity to make his first Opening Day big league roster. Having to get game-ready early for the WBC also presented a risk of being shut down later in the season.
“Obviously this is more important than going down there,” he said.
Gonzalez said the decision was entirely his. He and his wife are also expecting their first child this summer, which he said was also a factor.
Gonzalez did not pitch winter ball this offseason, instead choosing to train with Orioles special assistant Brady Anderson in California.
“I’m ready to go,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been working out with Brady. I think that’s been helping out. I’ve bever really done a workout in the offseason and I think I will have positive things that will be coming for me this year.”
Gonzalez is listed on Mexico’s provisional roster, which was released Thursday.
Right-handed relievers Pedro Strop (Dominican Republic) and Luis Ayala (Mexico) are also on their countries’ provisional WBC rosters, as are infield prospect Jonathan Schoop (Netherlands) and minor league catchers Chris Robinson (Canada) and Allan de San Miguel (Australia). Strop confirmed Thursday that he will pitch in the event.
Center fielder Adam Jones is the only Oriole on the United States roster.
Former Orioles on the provisional rosters include Miguel Tejada (Dominican Republic), Rodrigo Lopez (Mexico), David Hernandez (Mexico) and Adam Loewen (Canada). Former Orioles manager Mike Hargrove is on Italy’s coaching staff.
Hendrickson works out
Ex-Orioles left-hander Mark Hendrickson threw a bullpen session for pitching coach Rick Adair on Wednesday, showing off his new sidearm delivery.
The 38-year-old Hendrickson, who pitched for the Orioles from 2009 through 2011, primarily as a reliever, is hoping to get back to the majors after playing amateur ball in York, Pa. last year.
Back in 2011, Buck Showalter suggested the 6-foot-9 Hendrickson consider lowering his arm slot, which Showalter believed could present deception in his delivery, especially considering Hendrickson’s height.
“I’m surprisingly very comfortable,” Hendrickson said of the delivery. “I tinkered with it a little bit last year, maybe in June, and it was all over the place. I figured, you know what, coming into a new year and a new spring, just start early and just buy into it mentally. I started throwing in December and I picked it up rather quickly. Even yesterday throwing in the pen with Rick, a few things here and there I tinkered with, I picked it up. I said, ‘Hey, I’m a 38-year-old mind but a 20-year-old sponge right now.’ I’m open and willing to say, ‘Hey, teach me whatever and let’s see where it goes.’”
The Orioles are always looking for pitching depth, and Showalter loves the idea of having pitchers with a variety of deliveries. Hendrickson said he is willing to sign a minor league deal. “I’m just looking for an opportunity. That’s plain and simple. Just go from there.”
Duquette would like to add an arm
The Orioles remain interested in re-signing left-hander Joe Saunders — both the length of contract and salary seem to be sticking points — and executive vice president Dan Duquette said he would still like to add another veteran pitcher before the team reports to spring training.
“I’ve got to tell you, I like to sign veteran pitchers and bring them to spring training,” Duquette said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we continued our discussions with players who are out there because veteran pitchers can help stabilize your team, and Joe Saunders did a nice job for us. He did a really good job and provided leadership for our team in the playoffs when we needed it.
“If some of our young pitchers come along like I hope they come along, we’re going to have more starters than we have spots for,” Duquette added, “but having said that, I’d like to sign another veteran pitcher.”
Roberts had health setback
Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts had surgery in December to repair a sports hernia but says he is fully recovered and is already back doing baseball activities.
The 35-year-old Roberts, who underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip in August, had been rehabbing since September in preparation to start the 2013 season. His rehab in Sarasota, Fla., had been going well, he said, but he began feeling some discomfort and inflammation in his abdomen area.
On Dec. 19, he was examined by Dr. William Meyers, a sports hernia specialist in Philadelphia who has performed surgeries on the Orioles' Nick Markakis, Brian Matusz and Ryan Adams, among others. Meyers diagnosed the hernia – something Roberts says often “runs parallel” with the hip injury and rehab – and because the recovery time was estimated at only one month, Roberts decided to have the procedure the next day.
“If I was going to have any type of surgery, it’s probably the best one to have,” said Roberts, who talked with Matusz and Markakis before the procedure. “I knew it really wasn’t going to affect me much.”
Around the horn
Among the participants in this week’s minicamp were pitchers Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Chris Tillman, T.J. McFarland, Zach Clark, Mike Wright, Mike Belfiore, Zach Braddock, Gonzalez, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. … Markakis, also working out at the minicamp, was the only Orioles player to attend Thursday’s news conference on the contract extensions for Showalter and Duquette. ... Newcomers Trayvon Robinson, Danny Valencia and Adam Greenberg, as well as Schoop and utility man Wilson Betemit, were also at the minicamp.
Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.