Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez isn’t getting any closer

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The Phillies signed right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a three-year, $12 million contract last August after he defected from his native Cuba and were hoping that he would be prepared to join their active major league roster — preferably as a member of the starting rotation — during the early part of the 2014 season. But it’s almost June and Gonzalez seems only to be taking steps backward.

The hard-throwing 27-year-old did not look very effective this spring in Phillies camp and then came down with shoulder problems in late March. Now, according to Matt Gelb at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gonzalez is experiencing a bout of dead arm on his minor league rehab assignment with the High-A Clearwater Threshers. He had allowed seven earned runs in 9 1/3 innings over three appearances at Clearwater, so the whole effectiveness things remains an issue beyond the injury stuff.

Gonzalez is heading to Philadelphia this week to meet with club physicians. “Hopefully it’s nothing serious,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Inquirier on Tuesday afternoon.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.