Miguel Gonzalez: Man of Mystery

If there is a Man of Mystery in Phillies camp, a Mr. X, an unknown, it is Miguel Gonzalez.

The right-hander defected from Cuba last year before he agreed in July to a $48 million deal with the Phillies. But something happened during his physical and the parties ultimately agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract. He seemed to be destined for a top spot in the Phillies rotation, but the Phillies have lowered expectations for him because they said nobody really knows what kind of pitcher he might be.

Factor in the imminent arrival of A.J. Burnett and he could open the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

“I’ve got more to prove to myself than anyone else,” Gonzalez said of his Mystery Man status. “Once I prove it to myself, everyone else will be able to see it clearly.”

Gonzalez said he started throwing bullpens Jan. 6 and feels 100 percent healthy.

“There is more speed, more movement,” he said. “I can tell I’ve progressed.”

Cole Hamels is expected to open the season on the disabled list, but he could be back before the end of April. Once he is healthy, Hamels, Cliff Lee, Burnett and Kyle Kendrick will take the top four spots in the rotation. The Phillies signed Roberto Hernandez to a one-year, $4.5 million contract in December. He is the heavy favorite for the No. 5 spot because Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone and others in camp have options.

“Those are decisions that are out of my control,” said Gonzalez, asked if he sees himself in the rotation come Opening Day. “I’m going to do my best to do that, but that (decision) is out of my hands.”

He said he would pitch in the bullpen, if needed, but Ruben Amaro Jr. said he is best suited pitching regularly in a rotation.

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