E. Gonzalez proud to pitch for Mexico - East Valley Tribune: Cactus League

E. Gonzalez proud to pitch for Mexico

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Posted: Saturday, March 4, 2006 12:31 am | Updated: 3:43 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

An American ballplayer would find little solace in a career major league record of two wins, 10 losses.

But even the smallest of major league resumés is a point of pride for Diamondbacks pitcher Edgar Gonzalez, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, who might pitch against his major league club today in an exhibition game between the Diamondbacks and Mexico's entry in the World Baseball Classic. “Not too many (Mexican) guys have played in the big leagues,” Gonzalez said. “We love it, because the whole country knows you're a big leaguer. We've had only, like, 98 players in our history play in the big leagues. I'm the 94th. It's very important to me and to the other (Mexican) guys in the big leagues. I'm proud for Mexico.”

His numbers are correct.

When Gonzalez made his major league debut on June 1, 2003, he became the 94th native of Mexico to appear in a major league game and the 53rd Mexican native to pitch. He was also the youngest player in the majors at that point. He made his debut at age 20, just 14 months after signing a minor league deal at 18.

As a member of the Diamondbacks' active roster, Gonzalez has struggled. He went 0-9 with a 9.32 ERA in 10 starts over two stints with the home club in 2004 to become the fourth pitcher since 1946 to go winless with nine or more losses. In his only major league appearance in 2005, Gonzalez gave up four earned runs in one-third of an inning of a relief appearance.

He's had more success at the minor league level, particularly in the first half of last year. He finished the season with an 11-6 record and 4.37 ERA in 28 appearances (24 starts) with the Triple-A Tucson Sidewinders.

He's considered a long shot to beat out Claudio Vargas or Brad Halsey for the fifth spot in the Diamondbacks’ rotation, but at 23 he has plenty of baseball ahead of him.

“He's a guy that just needs to get over the hump at the big league level,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “He's got the stuff for it. Just sometimes, you don't have that success, you grind a little bit more, you think about it a little bit more. We expect him to get over it.”

As a member of the Mexican national team, Gonzalez is a huge asset. He is part of a deep pitching staff that is considered a squad strength. They'll have to be up to snuff if they hope to knock off Team USA in Tuesday's opening game of World Baseball Classic pool play at Chase Field.

Gonzalez, who has a small image of the Mexican flag on his glove, said the impact of such a win would do wonders for baseball in his home country, where loyalties are divided between two sports along roughly regional lines.

“If I pitch in the big leagues and I pitch very well, the next day papers in the whole country will say ‘Edgar Gonzalez pitched well for D-Backs’ or Esteban Loaiza or Vinny Castilla. The big guys,” Gonzalez said. “This is important because it's the second-biggest sport. The biggest sport in Mexico is football (soccer). But we have a lot of kids, a lot of young guys, who like the baseball.”

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