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Buck Showalter: Struggling Miguel Gonzalez 'not where we need him to be'

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez (50) turns the ball over to manager Buck Showalter in the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Fort Myers , Fla. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez (50) turns the ball over to manager Buck Showalter in the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Fort Myers , Fla. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) (Tony Gutierrez / AP)

BRADENTON, FLA. — Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Miguel Gonzalez was "not where we need him to be" after the right-hander allowed two more spring training home runs and four earned runs in the team's 6-5 loss to Pittsburgh.

"His command is not what he's shown he can do in the past," Showalter said. "I think he's a little frustrated. He's getting some pitches in places where he doesn't want to get them."

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Gonzalez found a small bit of levity in that frustration after he left the game. When a reporter asked where he was -- meaning mentally -- he joked that he was in Bradenton, before getting serious.

"I'm OK," Gonzalez said. "I'm OK. I'm fine. I'm staying positive, no matter what. I'm not going to give in."

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That positivity was evident after the outing. He said the only two pitches he wanted back were the ones the Pirates hit for home runs. And he partially attributed those home runs to the windy conditions in Florida.

"Overall, I felt good with my stuff today and I'll come in next bullpen, keep working with what I need to and stay positive," Gonzalez said.

Still, the spring hasn't been kind to Gonzalez, who, despite pitching into the fifth inning for the first time this spring, continued to struggle to get results. In his first three starts, Gonzalez went a combined 5 2/3 innings and allowed 14 earned runs on 18 hits. He rebounded with four innings of four-hit, two-run ball in his most recent start on March 18 at New York, but found trouble again Wednesday.

Gonzalez gave up a home run to Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen—the second batter he faced—and was down 2-0 after a run-scoring double by catcher Francisco Cervelli in the first inning.

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A leadoff bloop double by second baseman Josh Harrison and a single by Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer added a third run in the second inning, and right fielder Gregory Polanco homered to lead off the fourth inning. Gonzalez has now allowed five home runs this spring.

He took pride in getting the ball to start the fifth inning, and said he's on track for where he needs to be, length-wise.

"That's what it's all about," Gonzalez said. "They gave me the ball again to go out in the fifth, and the more we go, the better it is. We all know that our bullpen does a really good job, so we don't have to worry about going too long. But we always want to finish strong."

Gonzalez has now allowed 20 earned runs in 14 1/3 innings this spring, good for a 12.56 ERA, with a 2.30 WHIP and just four strikeouts.

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