05/02/2013 10:20 PM ET
Pitching in Anaheim always special for Gonzalez
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- When Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez thinks about that night 10 months ago -- the July evening he allowed one run over seven innings in Anaheim in his first Major League start -- to now, all the 28-year-old can say is it's gone by fast.
"That's where everything started," said Gonzalez, who rose from a Minor League spring invite to a rotation fixture last season. "The Orioles gave me the opportunity to start that day and I was really pumped and happy and excited. I had a really good time enjoying myself pitching against teammates I played with years back [as an Angels farmhand]. Hopefully, I'll have that same feeling I had last year tomorrow."
He won't have that same glove. Gonzalez, who made headlines when he took the mound for his first start using a glove gifted to him by Nick Adenhart, still has the late Angels pitcher's Rawlings mitt, and he typically carries it with him wherever the team travels. But since he signed a contract with Nike this year, Gonzalez can't use it.
"Things change sometimes, but my heart and my words and thoughts will be always with him," said Gonzalez, a San Fernando native who had a crowd of about 200 people pack the stands to see him pitch in Angel Stadium last year.
Gonzalez isn't sure how many people will be in attendance to watch him Friday night, but the right-hander -- who came to Angels games as a fan, most recently during the club's World Series run in 2002 -- said it will always have a little extra meaning coming to Southern California.
"I think every time I come to play against the Angels it will be special," he said. "Especially in front of the family and friends. I grew up here, and it's fun to come back home to the West Coast."
O's to promote veteran Garcia for Saturday's start
ANAHEIM -- As expected, the Orioles will promote right-hander Freddy Garcia to make Saturday's start against the Angels.
"His date fits well timing-wise," manager Buck Showalter said of Garcia, who last pitched Sunday and was named the International League Pitcher of the Week after going 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his last two starts at Triple-A Norfolk. "That's what you look at first. The good thing is that we have a lot of guys to pick from down there that we like, so you really don't have to separate them too much."
The 36-year-old Garcia (4-0) is leading the International League in wins and has a 2.67 ERA in five starts, with 21 strikeouts and two walks over 33 2/3 innings. He agreed on Monday to extend the opt-out clause in his contract to May 14, and Showalter said the decision wasn't based on that.
"This is about that his date fell there well," he said. "I'm aware of that [opt-out]. He likes where he's at. We could have waited a couple more weeks if we wanted to."
Garcia, who has been in the Majors for 14 years, signed a Minor League deal with Baltimore after he was released by the Padres this spring, and he will have to be added to the 40-man roster. The team won't officially add him until Saturday, with right-hander Zach Clark the most likely choice to be optioned back to Triple-A.
McLouth believes he can handle facing lefties
ANAHEIM -- Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth, who has been on an offensive tear, hopes there will come a time this season when he can get some consistent at-bats off left-handed pitching. It's an option manager Buck Showalter has thought about, but -- so far -- has largely shied away from, choosing instead to work in right-handed hitters Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce.
"When you see guys spitting on balls a couple inches off the plate … you can tell he's seeing the ball good and letting it travel," Showalter said of McLouth, who entered Thursday batting .432 (16-for-37) with 14 runs scored and seven walks over his last 10 games. "He's not missing pitches when he gets them.
"Do you expand what you are doing with him or do you say this is part of the reason why he's doing so well? There's also from a team standpoint, things you want to keep in the flow with everybody."
McLouth, who is batting .329 through the first 27 games of the season, said he's never had a stretch during his Major League career where he was this good for this long. The key so far? Slowing down each at-bat, which McLouth feels enables him to be more selective.
"I feel like I've been able to control at-bats well and get in counts that I want to get in and swing at pitches I want to swing at," he said. "That's the most important thing. It's harder to do at times than it seems like it should be. It kind of sounds stupid, but if you swing at good pitches, the likelihood of doing something good, or hitting the ball good, is much better. I feel like that's what I'm happiest about, is the way I've commanded my strike zone."
McLouth, a left-handed hitter, owns a career .222/.302/.348 line against left-handed pitching in 773 plate appearances versus a .260/.350/.449 in 2,307 appearances against righties. He is 2-for-11 against lefties this season, with a homer and two RBIs.
"I'm not scared to hit lefties, I don't shy away from it," McLouth said. "But hopefully there will be a time where I get back to I can hit lefties OK and hold my own against them. Hopefully there will be a time where I can get more consistent at-bats against lefties. But this is a team, and Buck is going to put the best lineup out there every night that he thinks is the best lineup to win that game."
The thought on getting Pearce and Reimold in against lefties is that it will help get them going. The Orioles' bottom of the lineup struggled in the season's first month, and Reimold in particular -- who entered Thursday's game hitting .203 -- has shown flashes of being able to carry the team offensively.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.