Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez leaves game early after being drilled by comebacker

March 8

Baltimore Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez left Friday’s home Grapefruit League game against the Philadelphia Phillies just three batters into his outing after suffering a a bruised left tibia when he was hit by a sharp comebacker in the top of the fifth inning.

Gonzalez left the Ed Smith Stadium complex to get precautionary X-rays, but the club believes he will be fine.

“It looked liked it hit him in a pretty meaty spot, I would say, so we’ll see what happens as the trainers and doctors look at him, but hopefully it’s nothing serious,” said Orioles bench coach John Russell, who served as manager for part of Friday’s game. “He looked like he walked off the field fine, so I would say he’s going to be all right.”

It was still a scary sight. The ball — which came off the bat of Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp — drilled Gonzalez’s leg, and he fell to ground, but quickly got back to his feet. After being examined by Manager Buck Showalter and head trainer Richie Bancells, Gonzalez walked off the field and back to the clubhouse with Bancells.

“That’s how quick things can change,” said Orioles pitching coach Dave Wallace. “You don’t know. Hopefully, it’s good news. I think it is. You wonder and immediately start thinking about options. We always talk about pitching depth.”

Early in spring training, Gonzalez was slowed by back spasms, but quickly returned to full strength.

Team pounds Burnett

The Orioles roughed up right-hander A.J. Burnett — one of the Phillies’ top offseason free agent targets — for six runs on seven hits over three innings on their way to a 15-4 Grapefruit League win over the Phillies.

Ryan Flaherty blasted a two-run homer off Burnett, over the batter’s eye in straight-away center field, in the second inning and Nick Markakis went 4 for 4 with two doubles and a triple. Four other Orioles starters had multiple hits, including Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy, who drove in two runs each.

The Orioles (5-2) sent 10 batters to the plate against Burnett in a four-run third inning that included four singles, two hit batters and a walk . . .

Showalter still won’t estimate when all-star Manny Machado might return from offseason left-knee surgery, but said Friday the Gold Glove third baseman’s rehab was on schedule.

“Everything that he’s supposed to be doing at this point he’s doing,” Showalter said. “He’s not ahead of schedule, he’s not behind schedule. He’s on schedule. What that is, whether it’s the day after opening day, on opening day, or it’s a month after opening day, we just don’t want any setbacks, and we have not had any setbacks yet.”

Machado is slated to see Dr. Neal ElAttrache on March 18 to get cleared to participate in spring games, but Showalter indicated that appointment could come sooner.

Showalter said Machado cleared a significant mental hurdle on Thursday by running down the first base line and landing on the first base bag on each foot. Machado’s injury came in September when his left leg landed awkwardly on the first base bag.

“You can’t tell a runner, ‘Okay I want you to hit the bag with this foot,’” Showalter said. “You run and whichever one [lands] comes up. In the course of it, he hit it with both feet, and that’s another hurdle. Taking turns, he’s done that. He’s moving side to side now, so he’s right where he needs to be. Where that leads us, I’m okay with wherever it is.”

Earlier this week, Machado began taking soft-toss, conducting side-to-side defensive drills, making backhand and fronthand plays without a glove. Since spring training began, Machado has been taking batting practice and doing defensive drills without sharp lateral movement.

— Baltimore Sun

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