WASHINGTON — When the Phillies signed Miguel Gonzalez to an amended three-year, $12 million deal, they asked him to spend his time in Florida and learn the ways of American professional baseball. They view the Cuban pitcher as their potential third starter in 2014, but are not concerned with him pitching in a competitive environment before spring training.
"I don't think there is any necessity for him to go throw winter ball or anything like that," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "We just want to see where he's at. We want to get him assimilated into our organization and be ready to go for spring training."
Gonzalez, who turns 27 on Sept. 23, will remain a great mystery until next spring. The Phillies have him working with players in the Florida Instructional League this fall, but Proefrock said he was unsure whether Gonzalez will actually pitch in a game.
So much is unknown about the righthanded pitcher. His agent, Jaime Torres, arranged for games in Mexico when Gonzalez defected from Cuba so scouts could see him. He was suspended from pitching in Cuban baseball leagues for two years before that, and his experience is limited.
The Phillies have Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee atop their rotation, but questions about the rest persist. When Ruben Amaro Jr. signed Gonzalez, he spoke like the rookie would secure a spot in his rotation. He will be asked to do that with few innings under his belt.
"The main thing is to get him in a situation where it's controlled," Proefrock said. "We'll see how it plays out. We don't know exactly what he's been doing."
Gonzalez's three-year contract starts in 2014. He is not being paid a salary until next April, but received a signing bonus last August. Proefrock said Gonzalez is healthy. Concerns about his elbow lowered the guaranteed years and money he received.
"Spring training is long enough where you can build him up and do what you need to do," Proefrock said. "I don't think there is any need to have him in a competitive situation before spring training. There is nothing set in concrete. There are a lot of unknowns as far as where he's at and what he's been doing."
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