It’s just the beginning of the season. The grass still green and fresh. Every baseball fan is pump up and all players have a slight illusion of post-season play.
The Florida Marlins have commence the young season with its best start since its 1997 World Championship team and on its bench only smiles are seen. Sure, it’s only the first week. This is definitely not the ample talented that Jim Leyland managed 12 summers ago but why not to enjoy it meanwhile it lasts the good streak.
Among the grinning faces in Fredi Gonzalez squad are the two boricuas in the fish tank Kiko Calero and Andy Gonzalez.
“I’m very happy to be here. I knew I deserve the opportunity and I’m going to do the best of it”, Calero said at Miami’s Dolphin Stadium.
Calero, signed as a Minor League free agent in late January, it’s making his words good and at this moment has now pitched 2 2/3 shutout frames to start the season.
“I work very hard to be here. I made some sacrifices and I want personally to demostrate that I’m back and healthy”, Calero said.
And sure he made a huge sacrifice back in March. The 34 year-old right-handed bolted to join Team Puerto Rico for the World Baseball Classic and instead stayed behind at the Marlins spring training camp in Jupiter in order to win a spot as a relief pitcher as a non-roster invitee.
Not only the Santurce native was just an invitee. Calero have to demostrate he could come back from a rotator cuff injury that kept him out from pitching last season.
Calero problems started in 2007 when he appeared in 46 games as shoulder problems arise and caused him to miss the final month of that season. In 2008 after only 5 games pitched he was released by the Oakland A’s. After being designated for assignment and released, Calero signed with the Texas Rangers on July 4, 2008. The Rangers signed Calero to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Oklahoma, where he spent the rest of the season.
As of Andy Gonzalez, he’s smiling too. Even though, there it is the possibility he will be victim to be send to the minors when the Marlins called up super utilty Alfredo Amezaga from the disabled list his happy.
“This was my goal. To start the season in the major league roster and show my abilities”. Gonzalez said. “Even if I’m sent down, I know I will be back soon”
Manager Fredi Gonzalez pointed out that Gonzalez, 27, have a great chance to be with the big club for long and is a player that can help the team coming out of the bench.The cuban-born skipper praised Gonzalez as he can play both the infield and outfield very soundly.
As of Calero, Manager Gonzalez praised him as a veteran that will see a lot of innings this year and can be a good candidate for Comeback of the Year.
This column was also published as a special column for The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Commentary