Uncertainty surrounds new Phils righty Gonzalez
$48 million man could open in Minors after first being tabbed for top of rotation
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- If there is a Man of Mystery in Phillies camp -- a Mr. X, an unknown -- it is Miguel Gonzalez.
The right-hander defected from Cuba last year before he agreed to a $48 million deal with the Phillies in July. But something happened during Gonzalez's physical exam, and the parties ultimately agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract. He seemed to be destined for a top spot in the Phils' rotation, but they have lowered expectations for him because they said nobody really knows what kind of pitcher he might be.
Factor in the imminent arrival of A.J. Burnett, and Gonzalez could open the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
"I've got more to prove to myself than anyone else," Gonzalez said via a translator of his status. "Once I prove it to myself, everyone else will be able to see it clearly."
Gonzalez said he started throwing bullpen sessions Jan. 6, and he feels 100 percent healthy.
"There is more speed, more movement," he said. "I can tell I've progressed."
Cole Hamels is expected to open the season on the disabled list, but the lefty could be back before the end of April. Once Hamels is healthy, he, Cliff Lee, Burnett and Kyle Kendrick will take the top four spots in the rotation. The Phillies signed Roberto Hernandez to a one-year, $4.5 million contract in December. He is the heavy favorite for the No. 5 spot, because Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone and others in camp have Minor League options.
"Those are decisions that are out of my control," said Gonzalez when asked if he sees himself in the rotation come Opening Day. "I'm going to do my best to do that, but that [decision] is out of my hands."
The righty said he would pitch in the bullpen, if needed, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Gonzalez is best suited to pitching regularly in a rotation.
Bastardo addresses 50-game suspension
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Left-hander Antonio Bastardo made one thing clear Thursday afternoon at Bright House Field.
"I made a mistake and I paid the price," Bastardo said.
Bastardo, 28, served a 50-game suspension at the end of last season for his connections to the Biogenesis scandal. He spent the final two months of the season at home in the Dominican Republic before pitching well there in winter ball. Bastardo is expected to be a key piece in the Phillies' bullpen in 2014.
Asked if he knew what he took was a banned substance, Bastardo said, "Yeah, I know it was a mistake. I told you before it was a mistake that I made. I know what I did."
There was backlash. Former relief pitcher Dan Meyer and Bastardo participated in Phils camp in 2011. Meyer said on Twitter, "Remember when we competed for a job in 2011. Thx a lot."
"I don't know why some players are thinking about that," Bastardo said. "It's like, why do they compete with me? You have to compete with the hitters. You have to get the hitters out. If you do your job, you make the guys who are making decisions think about you. That's it. You're not competing with other pitchers. You're competing with hitters."
Bastardo went 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 48 appearances last season. There will be skeptics following his performance this season, watching closely to see if he can pitch successfully after being caught and suspended.
"No, I don't feel like I have to prove myself," Bastardo said. "I feel confidence in myself and what I need to do. Just do it. Just get people out."
Revere finds silver lining in ankle surgery
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies center fielder Ben Revere pronounced himself healthy and ready to go Thursday. Revere broke his right ankle in July, which required season-ending surgery.
"It may have helped make me faster, because of my form now," Revere said. "I've been running a lot since rehab, and I'm working on getting out of the box. I think I'm getting out of the box a lot quicker."
Revere hit .200 with a .456 OPS through April last season, before hitting .347 with a .784 OPS from May 1 through July 13.
Burnett deal could push Phils' payroll to record high
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies could finish the season with a franchise-record payroll following their agreement with A.J. Burnett on a one-year, $16 million deal.
The Phils finished 2012 at a record $174.5 million, according to figures sent from the Commissioner's Office to teams for luxury-tax purposes. That figure includes the average annual value of contracts, more than $10 million for benefits and extended benefits, bonuses and more. Figure Burnett's $16 million salary into the mix, and the Phillies' payroll is about $174 million, with the luxury tax now $189 million.
"Our payroll is fairly flexible," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Thursday. "It's interesting. Our ownership group and David [Montgomery] have been very open-minded in a lot of ways."
Could the Phillies add anybody else to the roster? They watched former closer Ryan Madson throw last week in Arizona. He has not pitched since 2011 because of elbow injuries.
"Our reports were good when we saw him, so he's going to sign somewhere," Amaro said. "We're still looking at some things. Again, as I said before, we'll likely go with the guys we've got. But we're looking at other possibilities this spring. Any time we can try to bolster our club, we'll try to do that."
• Amaro said he is keeping former Phillies manager Jim Fregosi in his prayers after Fregosi suffered a stroke during a Major League Baseball alumni cruise and was flown Tuesday to Miami from the Cayman Islands. "It's unfortunate," Amaro said. "All I'm doing is praying for their family. It's upsetting news."
• Amaro said Hamels and right-hander Mike Adams are the only two pitchers in camp behind schedule. Hamels is recovering from left shoulder tendinitis. Adams had right shoulder surgery last summer.
• Everybody reported to camp on time Wednesday, other than catcher Sebastian Valle. He had flight problems in Mexico, but he was in camp Thursday.
• Former Phils manager Charlie Manuel, who joined the front office as an adviser, will not be in camp. His work will begin in April.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.