Gonzalez a spark for fans and bullpen

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Relief pitcher Mike Gonzalez has been out of the Braves lineup since May 2007. He blew out his elbow, had reconstructive surgery and has been rehabbing ever since. But he returned last week with some success.

Before being activated last week in Texas, Gonzalez had been on the disabled list since May 16, 2007. He was so eager to return to the Braves’ bullpen, and had so much pent-up energy to release, that he began rocking on the mound during extended spring training games.

But even in that atmosphere, which he likened to pitching in front of two fans (a scout and someone’s mother), his fidgeting wasn’t all that pronounced.

That all changed when he made his season debut Wednesday against the Rangers. Like a caged animal, Gonzalez swayed and bounced on the balls of his feet, even when the batter hadn’t yet entered the box. It was a save situation, with the pressure that closers are accustomed to.

Out of site, out of mind I guess. But his return is a reminder of not only the boost he brings to the bullpen, but how the 30-year-old Texan ratchets up the eye candy factor on the roster. Fans need something to gawk at to make us forget the Braves’ on-field struggles.

(Hat tip to Braves Love for the photo.)

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