Home / Sports / Newman: Rocky Mountain grad Marco Gonzales primed to return to big leagues to help Mariners in Wild Card hunt

Newman: Rocky Mountain grad Marco Gonzales primed to return to big leagues to help Mariners in Wild Card hunt

Southpaw Marco Gonzales’ baseball resume is as lengthy as it is impressive. But ask him what his biggest feat is, and he doesn’t hesitate with the answer.

Staying healthy.

“After each start, my arm feels good,” Gonzales said. “I’m pitching without pain, and that’s a huge victory for me. With that in mind, the results take a back seat to the approach and just making sure I’m feeling good every day.”

The 25-year-old Rocky Mountain graduate is still the only player in Colorado prep history to be the winning pitcher in four straight championship games, something he accomplished from 2007-10. From there, he went on to star as a dynamic two-way player at Gonzaga before being drafted by the Cardinals in the first round in 2013.

But following a rapid ascent to the big leagues, Gonzales’ professional career has been marred by injuries. Shoulder inflammation limited his action in 2015 and Tommy John surgery sidelined him for all of 2016.

Now, in a familiar setting following his trade from the Cardinals to the Mariners on July 21 — Gonzales makes his offseason home in Seattle; his wife is from nearby Sammamish — it’s looking promising for the pitcher to contribute to a playoff push.

The Mariners entered Friday 3 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race, and Gonzales dazzled in his first start at AAA Tacoma through six solid innings of work in a 4-3 Rainiers victory.

“It’s absolutely a goal to contribute to the playoff run,” Gonzales said. “I step on the mound every time hoping to prove myself and get myself to the next level, but I’m looking at it right now as a day-to-day process, with a focus on the little things I can do each day to make myself better, so that hopefully when that time comes I’m ready for the opportunity.”

With an arsenal that includes a sinking, low-90s fastball, a changeup he describes as “my go-to pitch” and a serviceable curveball that’s improved drastically following elbow surgery, Gonzales has the command necessary to earn a permanent job in a Mariners rotation that ranks in the bottom half of the American League in quality starts.

But call-ups are a matter of performance and timing, and as Gonzales waits on his return to the big leagues, he emphasized he can’t help but feel grateful to still be in baseball, with a chance to lace up his cleats and go to work every fifth game.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play overseas and all across the country because of baseball,” Gonzales said. “My entire career, I’ve made it a point to look back and be fortunate to see the places the game has taken me, and the people I’ve met because of it. This new opportunity with the Mariners is the latest stop on my journey, and I’m nothing but excited for what’s ahead.”

Source: denverpost

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