Orioles injured closer Michael Gonzalez will report to the team's spring training complex on Monday in Sarasota to begin a rehabilitation program that will keep him out for at least three weeks.
I spoke to Gonzalez last night and he admitted that he is frustrated about how his Orioles' tenure has started - two blown saves in three attempts and now a DL-stint with a strained left shoulder - and he doesn't blame the fans for sharing that frustration.
"The truth is, I'm a professional and I totally understand the frustration of the fans," said Gonzalez. "I was brought here to close the door. I've done it before. I know I can do it and I haven't gotten it done. But I'm focused on the team right now. They grinded, and we were right there and I didn't shut the door. That's what I'm most frustrated about, but I know I can do this."
Gonzalez also reiterated that he started feeling the injury on Tuesday while he was warming up in the bullpen, dismissing the speculation that he was pitching hurt through spring training and through the first week of the season.
To his credit, he blames the team's poor start on himself, saying that not only did he cost the Orioles two victories, but his struggles created doubt in the other player's minds, and forced other relievers into roles that they weren't used to.
"I'm definitely frustrated with the situation, but then again, I have three weeks to get healthy and to join the guys," he said. "What they're going through right now, I wish I could be there with them. I'm going to focus on getting myself ready to bring some positive spark when I come back. I have to get it together, get healthy, get my mind right so I can be a positive spark to these guys."
Gonzalez said that he'll start playing catch when he feels no pain and said that he'd like to be ready before three weeks.
"The best thing about it is we talked to all the doctors, to [head athletic trainer] Richie Bancells, and I'm not going to need surgery," Gonzalez said. "The big thing is for the inflammation to go down. After four of five days of not doing anything, it should be calmed down. It's only going to take two or three days of playing catch before I'll get my rhythm back. I need to be healthy to help this team out. That's what I have to focus on."