There’s still a ways to go between now and Spring Training, but the light is starting to shine a little brighter for Marco Gonzales.
“I started throwing–that’s been going great,” shared Gonzales, who underwent Tommy John surgery back in April and missed all of the 2016 season. This comes on the heels of shoulder injuries allowing him to appear in just 15 games in 2015.
“I’ve been throwing for a couple of weeks now, it’s good,” he continued. “I’m really happy with the progress and I know everyone that I’ve been working with down here is happy with it too. I feel strong. It’s a slow process so we’re just going day-by-day and seeing how it works out, but so far nothing but positives.”
While not easy, Gonzales has found that working through a more structured rehab plan that follows Tommy John versus some of the uncertainty of his shoulder issues last year has been better to deal with.
“It’s tough to be away,” he said. “It’s tough to be away from the guys and the coaches–and truthfully, just to be away from competing. I think the toughest part of being in rehab is the mental strength it takes to have all that competitive energy built up and not have anywhere to release it. Trying to refocus that in to rehab exercises and just working on patience and my mental strength. It’s been a challenge. It’s something I’ve had to work really hard at to try and go day-by-day and just trusting the process.”
Living in West Palm Beach, FL, the 24-year old lefty has been rehabbing at the Cardinals training complex at Roger Dean Stadium. Joining him there has included Lance Lynn and Tim Cooney.
“We’ve definitely built kind of a support system for each other, try to do other things away from the field together,” said Gonzales.
“Lance as you can expect, just always seems to be on one–he’s just such a character, love being around him. He’s a great guy and keeps things light. I think he’s just kind of set that tone for us down here. We really just come to the field everyday with a good mindset and try to be positive. Everybody is really on track. Tim just started throwing as well. Everybody’s, there’s no one that’s really had any…I won’t even say the word. Knock on wood. Everyone’s been great and everyone’s on pace. We’re all just staying positive and anxious to get back.”
There are some breaks built into the schedule, but for the most part, Gonzales will throw right through the entire off-season and into Spring Training.
“The throwing program is pretty meticulous and it’s pretty drawn out–I think it’s a 6 1/2 month throwing program,” he shared. “Right now, we’re just building up. I’m at 60 feet for 50 throws, three times per week. Next week, we kind of progress into 90 feet and just up the throw count from there. Hopefully, it’s looking like sometime in December I’ll step on the mound and play a little mound catch, which is just pretty casual toss off the mound. Then come January, it should be pretty exciting from there.”
So could Marco Gonzales be ready to fill the void in the bullpen left by Zach Duke’s surgery or even help out the rotation?
“Truthfully, I’m really just looking forward to being healthy,” answered Gonzales. “I really have just been looking forward to helping contribute, if I can. I have no doubt in my mind that as an organization, I think we’ll fit the right pieces into where they need to be fit when that time comes and hopefully, my names in the mix.”
“I think that raises a lot of opportunity for a lot of guys. I think you’ll see a lot of competition in Spring Training as always and I know that the right guys will step up and we’ll be as strong as ever, I have no doubt.”
photo credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports, Brian Stull-St. Louis Baseball Weekly