No one is sure how exactly MLB teams perform the act of cutting a player from training camp. It's one of the sports world's most tightly kept secrets, with each outsider who has discovered the horrifying truth seeming to disappear before they can tell the rest of us.
Do they find crimson tags hanging in their lockers, like the theory presented in Major League? Or do they simply wake up outside of the training facility, having been quietly shuttled out, bed and all, by unseen acolytes the night before, also hinted at in Major League? Does Tom Berenger tell them for some reason? He was in Major League.
The point is, most go quietly, though every so often you have a Charlie Sheen attack a Corbin Bernsen. And this most recent round of cuts from Phillies camp will likely pass without incident, though the ramifications are indicative of a team's image coming into focus.
The Phillies went from 42 to 36 players this morning, sending space-fillers such as Chris McGuiness and Chris Nelson to minor league camp, as well as Koyie Hill (stomped out of the back-up catching gig by Cameron Rupp's 10 spring training hits), pitchers Hector Neris and Paul Clemens, and potential fifth starter Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
MAG was one of the ancillary names, along with Clemens early on, who was considered a "maybe" to supplement a chewed-up Phillies rotation which now does not include Cliff Lee and does include the sore, tweaked bodies of Aaron Harang and Jerome Williams. Prior to any actual throwing, the 28-year-old appeared confident that this wouldn't be like last year, when he seemed to lack control and pitched himself right out of camp in a hurry.
"It didn't go as well as I wanted last year," Gonzalez said. "This year I'm much better prepared, and much more mentally focused on what I have to do. The setbacks last season ... I thought I was physically ready and I'd have a setback. If it wasn't one thing it was another. This year, all that stuff is out of the way."
He made it into five games (starting four) and through 14.1 innings grew a 7.53 ERA. He gave up 25 hits, 12 earned runs, five home runs, seven strikeouts, and only the one walk for a BB/9 of 0.6.
In his last appearance, he was bombarded by the Astros pretty relentlessly, filling his four innings of work with eight hits and four runs, including back-to-back jacks. Here he is talking to the press, sounding like he is shellshocked and looking in an empty sack where he used to keep all of his pitches:
Gonzalez threw his full repertoire of pitches.
"They hit them all," he said.
The rotation should be filled predictably from here on out, with Cole Hamels getting the top spot, and Harang, Williams, David Buchanan, and eventually a rebuilt Chad Billingsley shuffling in behind him.