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Gonzalez making name for self

Gonzalez making name for self

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Enrique Gonzalez arrived late in Spring Training and might well wind up staying right to the end as well, if not longer.

Gonzalez, a right-handed reliever, is one of a handful of pitchers vying for spots in San Diego's bullpen this season. So far, he's done nothing to hurt his chances.

After working out of a sticky, bases-loaded, no-out situation in Thursday's tie against Seattle, Gonzalez has a 2.79 ERA over a team-high eight games and 9 2/3 innings.

Gonzalez hasn't allowed a run in his last five outings, though he certainly came close on Thursday, when he loaded the bases in the 10th inning against Seattle, after allowing a single and two bunts, both close calls that could have easily gone the other way.

But just as fast as he loaded the bases, Gonzalez wiggled out of the jam when he coaxed Yuniesky Betancourt to fly out to short right field and got Mike Morse to bounce into a inning-ending double play.

"I think the main thing is, he seemed really composed," said San Diego third baseman Craig Stansberry, who was in the game at the time. "He didn't get the close calls, but it didn't seem to bother him."

The Padres claimed Gonzalez off waivers from Washington in February, even though he never pitched for the Nationals. Gonzalez spent most of the 2007 season with Triple-A Tucson, going 8-10 with a 5.15 ERA.

Gonzalez arrived late in Arizona this spring, because of visa issues, but quickly made a name for himself for his ability to throw strikes. He'd allowed just 10 hits, and most importantly, just one walk, over his spring appearances, heading into Friday.

"He showed good stuff, his fastball had some velocity, a nice tight slider," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "I thought the at-bat to Betancourt was great, getting a fly ball. And he had a good at-bat against Mike Morse, who is having a great spring.

"It was very good situational pitching. It's what you look for out of players. You look for guys who do those things. A lot of people look at it offensively with clutch hitting. But there's clutch pitching, too."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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