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.

Kyle Schwarber has lost 17-20 pounds

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As is offseason tradition, the first of player-shape reports are trickling in. These usually use some variation of the phrase “best shape of [my/his] life.” This one, though, avoids that at least.

According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber has lost 17-20 pounds so far this offseason. Schwarber said that he’s “already big and strong,” so “might as well try to get more explosive, faster.”

Though Schwarber knocked out 30 home runs this past season, his numbers were otherwise pedestrian. He hit .211/.315/.467 with 59 RBI and 67 runs scored in 486 plate appearances.

There has been some speculation that the Cubs will try to trade Schwarber to an American League team where he can be a DH. He’s a subpar defender, so making him a full-time DH makes a lot of sense. So far, though, the only team that has been linked to Schwarber this offseason has been the Red Sox.