08/24/2009 1:18 PM ET
Gonzalez: Ready for the phone to ring
Braves lefty reliever has been terrific this season
This season, I've already pitched in more games (62) and thrown innings (57 2/3) than any other season of my seven-year career in the big leagues. I feel fortunate about that, especially considering my last two seasons have been shortened by injuries.
This year, I've been pretty healthy. I've thrown the ball well, and, when they call on me, I'm ready to get the job done. I've pitched as a closer, and I've pitched in a setup role. Whatever the role is, I just want to help us win ballgames now.
Against the Dodgers a couple weeks ago I pitched two innings -- something I haven't done very often in my career -- but I really enjoyed it. The key, though, is to see how I bounce back the next day.
The injuries I had the last couple of years haven't affected me much this year. I've pitched in back-to-back games, and I've pitched in three consecutive games on occasion. The key the rest of the way is to maintain what I'm doing and how I'm doing it.
I've definitely altered my work ethic a little bit. I'm trying not to push myself as hard. I'm trying to maintain my energy and strength instead of trying to build more strength.
Looking back, my preparation for this season was also very important. It was the best I've ever prepared for a season. The work I put in over the winter has helped me to get to where I am right now.
During the season, I don't work as hard because of the injuries the years before. I'm not saying that's why I gut hurt in the past, but in the past I've been the type of guy who has to be pushed back and stopped from working out.
So, I'm being a little protective of my health this season. It's something I've done on my own. For example, I've backed off from the weights and focused more on light repetitions.
Even though I've pitched well recently, I won't go as far as to say I'm getting better and stronger as the season goes on. I've been able to maintain my arm strength, and I feel like I did the first week of the season. While I'm no stronger, I also don't feel any weaker at this point, either.
Mike Gonzalez has not allowed an earned run since July 9 and has lowered his ERA to 2.50 with 74 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings for the Braves in 2009.