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Gonzalez to pitch for USA in WBC

Feb 9, 2013, 9:44 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images
Gio Gonzalez becomes the second left-handed starter on Team USA’s roster.

Gio Gonzalez has accepted an offer to pitch for Team USA in next month’s World Baseball Classic, a somewhat surprising twist less than two weeks after the Nationals left-hander’s name surfaced in connection with a Miami clinic under investigation for distributing performance enhancing drugs.

Gonzalez, whose addition was announced on USA Baseball’s Twitter account, presumably takes the roster spot that opened up when Braves right-hander Kris Medlen withdrew in anticipation of the birth of his first child. He’s currently one of only two left-handed starters scheduled to pitch for Team USA, along with the Rangers’ Derek Holland.

Other projected members of the rotation are the Blue Jays’ R.A. Dickey and the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong, though more pitchers (including Tigers ace Justin Verlander) could still be added before the final, 28-man roster must be submitted on Feb. 20.

Gonzalez was selected for the team by USA manager Joe Torre, who also serves as MLB’s executive vice president for baseball
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  1. MicheleS - Feb 9, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    Well okay then… just don't hurt yourself

  2. Timothy Folk - Feb 9, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    What in the world are you doing Gio? We got a WS to win! You don't have to prove anything to anyone.

  3. tayo - Feb 9, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    Better not get injured before the season starts Gio.

  4. Timothy Folk - Feb 9, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. EmDash - Feb 9, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    Huh, very surprising. I wonder if it was felt that he/the team wouldn't be able to focus with the press interest in the investigation, so they're seeing how he does in a competitive situation under this kind of scrutiny.

  6. Doc - Feb 9, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    OK Gio. Invite Joe out for dinner and have free pizza delivered to his hotel room. And even make some contributions to his favorite charity.But mostly just take care of your pitching wing!

  7. SCNatsFan - Feb 9, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    Not liking this

  8. peric - Feb 9, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    More soap operic (nice pseudo pun there by yours truly :) ) drama to start the season … the point-ball team's curse appears to linger even over the baseball team …

  9. NCNatsie - Feb 9, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Does MLB have anything to say about who goes to the WBC? Because if they do, even informally, I read this as meaning Gio os off the hook on the PED thing as far as any suspension or other disciplinary action is concerned. I don't think they would let him anywhere near Torre otherwise.

  10. NCNatsie - Feb 9, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    "is" or the hook.

  11. peric - Feb 9, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Just like Mark still very much concerned about Espinosa making the choice to forego surgery. Minimally he now becomes another banjo bat as opposed to a legitimate potential power bat. I just can't see how that is good. I look for Rivero to have a legitimate shot at making the 25 going north if he can prove his new found power last season in Syracuse and during winter ball was no fluke … and if he can quickly learn and embrace playing the outfield as a UTL. Rivero's a better athlete than Lombo and a bit younger. Meanwhile, Lombo could very well end up as the starting 2nd bagger throughout most of the season. Due to Espy finally going off to have that surgery … I think this could end badly with Espy kicking himself for not getting it done sooner .. he's going to be another year older …

  12. NCNatsie - Feb 9, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    is "off" the hook. For cryin' out loud.

  13. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    hmmm

  14. Teddy Rochlis - Feb 9, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    Just don't hurt yourself gio

  15. Scooter - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    Fantastic news. I'm looking forward to a fun tournament, and watching Nats play will make it more fun.Man, all y'all in here need to lighten up. Think a little less about not-losing, and more about fun. It's a game, yo!

  16. Scooter - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    Sorry, that sounded pissier than I meant it.

  17. Tony - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:15 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  18. John C. - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:31 AM

    I find this very encouraging, actually. In addition to managing Team USA, Torre is the Executive VP for Baseball Operations, Torre handles disciplinary matters for the league. According to the WaPo, "Gonzalez, the lone Nationals’ representative on the U.S. roster, accepted an invitation by Team USA Manager Joe Torre."This tells me that, when it comes to Gio, MLB doesn't believe that there is anything there when it comes to the Biogenesis stuff. If there was, there's no way they would have invited him to play for Team USA.

  19. NatsLady - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:34 AM

    I believe they do Olympic-style testing (including HGH) for the WBA. Hopefully, Gio will pass with flying colors and that will put all this to rest.

  20. peric - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    NatsJim said…I'm taking the optimistic approach to Danny's injury – maybe it will force him to shorten his stroke and he'll strike out less… too much to hope?Exact same injury to LaRoche in 2011 ….And what was LaRoche like offensively? And sure Espy is a work out animal like RG III … and younger …BUT … I guess we'll see how he does in the WBC. I know the Nats will have scouts et al there watching closely.

  21. phil dunton - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    Huge mistake. Just ask Ayala!

  22. NatsJim - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    I was 99.9% joking Peric… 8)

  23. Tony - Feb 10, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    Who needs Dr. Weimi "Doogie" Howser MD? Peric has examined both Espi and LaRoche and determined that their injuries are exactly the same.

  24. Manassas Nats' Fan - Feb 10, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    I believe this a win win. Torre will get a chance to know Goo well, and give Goo time to prepare away from distraction or at least distraction in Vista.

  25. Gonat - Feb 10, 2013 at 1:28 AM

    Yah, not like button.

  26. Gonat - Feb 10, 2013 at 1:29 AM

    Zim is at the Caps game tonight.

  27. peric - Feb 10, 2013 at 1:35 AM

    Tony's at the Klu Klux Klan meeting tonight.

  28. Gonat - Feb 10, 2013 at 1:41 AM

    http://natsgm.com/2013/02/09/a-natsgm-interview-with-mark-zuckerman-from-csn-washington/Mark got interviewed. I have to agree with Mark as I think if Bryce gets moved to the 3 hole he will have a shot at the NL MVP. 100 RBIs, 100 Runs scored, .280+ BA

  29. Clip&Store - Feb 10, 2013 at 1:59 AM

    Good! Glad to see our guys representing our country. It is a great honor.

  30. JaneB - Feb 10, 2013 at 2:40 AM

    I hope he pitches brilliantly, gets sharper for when we need him, and that he stays healthy. And that no other Nats go.

  31. SonnyG10 - Feb 10, 2013 at 3:16 AM

    This might be a good transition for Gio. It should make it easier for him to be with his Nats teammates when he first comes back to the team.

  32. Faraz Shaikh - Feb 10, 2013 at 3:21 AM

    One pitcher got injured after pitching to WBC and you can count on fans to keep using him as an example when the fact of the matter is that there were 100 others who just moved on to regular season without any issues.Anyways, I for one, is happy to see a Nats pitch on international level. I am even in favor of Harper, etc playing. Too bad they were not selected.

  33. Section 222 - Feb 10, 2013 at 4:07 AM

    peric, just FYI, ALR had a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder (remember how he was taking it easy during last year's Spring Training?). Espi has a torn rotator cuff in his non throwing shoulder. But you're right, Espi's injury is very concerning.

  34. sjm308 - Feb 10, 2013 at 4:42 AM

    I believe I read that all MLB pitchers will be on strict inning counts so the only way I see this as a potential injury is if he tries to do too much, too soon. Lets just hope he goes and has fun with it and that the ped talk is not the focus while he is there. Can the US add and subtract players at any time? Or is it once the rosters are set, they have no flexibility.

  35. realdealnats - Feb 10, 2013 at 5:09 AM

    Not wild about Gio adding innings to his arm in a year with a WS up for grabs. Like Harp 3rd. He bats well after Werth. Span and Werth will have looked over a lot of pitches. He is not as susceptible to the ground ball DP as Zimm. And they'll have to pitch him more honestly with Zimm and ALR following.Expressed high hopes for Espi having a break through year like Desi did last year. Oh well. But we'll see what Lombo can do starting, and it will push Rendon.All in all, World Series or Bust

  36. baseballswami - Feb 10, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Gio is far enough along in his career to do this. I think it shows that MLB is not too concerned about him. Mostly, I think it will get him busy with baseball and out of camp , where all the annoying media people are. If he can just play ball then he is less likely to be a head case about things. I will be proud to have one of the Nats on the team. We should be represented.

  37. sjm308 - Feb 10, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Swami: have to think there will be more media at the WBC then in Viera and they will all be asking the same questions he faces when he arrives at Nationals camp. The only difference is that hopefully by that time it will all be settled.As for adding innings, it is my understanding that he would have those same innings in spring training. Just that the innings have a little more importance then facing a split squad from Houston.

  38. MicheleS - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    SJM.. I think they are on a strict pitch count for the WBC.

  39. Rabbit34 - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Hmmmm. Maybe sitting out 50 games due to an injury is better than sitting out 50 games due to a PED violation? I still don't trust athletes and politicians. But, I still hope for the best for Gio and the Nationals.

  40. Joe Seamhead - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    For several years my son worked out with, and was coached by Kevin Gibbs, a player from this area [St. John's in DC] that made it to the Dodgers 40 man roster before destroying his shoulder. Kevin played for Team USA about 16 years ago and said that it was one of the greatest, and most rewarding, experiences of his life. To play with a mixture of some of the best of your countrymen, along with playing against the best from other nations, and mainly playing for the pure joy of baseball must be pretty cool. As to the possibility of injury, of course it's there, as it also is in the All-Star game. Or for the NBA players playing in the Olympics. I like it that great players still play for something other then the money.

  41. Laddie Blah Blah - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    A vote of confidence from Joe Torre. That tells me that MLB has a lot more faith in Gio than it does in the yellow press in Miami. Me, too.Danny can be ably replaced by Lombo, and Ramos can be replaced by Suzuki. I think it is much more important for the team that RZ comes back at full strength. He is still the best player on the team, and he cannot be replaced. If healthy, RZ can put up MVP numbers. That is exactly what he did during the 2nd half, last year, when those cortisone shots allowed him to regain his swing.

  42. Rabbit34 - Feb 10, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Trout and Harper better keep clean. You can bet that Harper, being the best player in baseball, will be under a microscope along with Trout.

  43. SCNatsFan - Feb 10, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    My crystal ball says Gio emerges unscathed. Also says Espi starts horrible, they blame it on his shoulder, has surgery, Lombo plays until about 2/3 of the season is over, Rendon takes over 2nd base and Espi finishes the year with no position on this team next year.

  44. whatsanattau - Feb 10, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    My understanding is that you don't pitch more in a WBC series than you do in spring training. Every fifth day … ramping up from 3 to 6 innings … monitored by a good pitching coach. The only possible issue is that if the player throws harder or differently because it is a semi-competitive game. I too had the thought that perhaps someone at MLB had to bless the invitation. And/or perhaps Gio made him self available to either ease the burden on teammates or make a statement that he was not afraid of testing. I'm also of the opinion that assigning guilt by association is overrated. The doctor may be crooked, the clinic may be crooked, many of the patients may be crooked, but does that mean that everybody who is associated by name with the clinic is crooked? What are the odds that none of the people whose names appear in the notes of the clinic are innocent? Whistling past the graveyard……

  45. Scooter - Feb 10, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    There's a new post over yonder, for them what cares about such things.

  46. realdealnats - Feb 10, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    I said innings but I think I was thinking more about competitive stress. Did not know they were on such a strict pitch count. But didn't one of our pitchers mess his arm up in the WBC a handful of years ago? That was what prompted me to say something in the first place.

  47. natsfan1a - Feb 10, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    Yes, Luis Ayala.

  48. realdealnats - Feb 11, 2013 at 2:13 AM

    Thanks 1A.

  49. 5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 - Feb 11, 2013 at 2:55 AM

    A guy like Joe Torre would never over pitch players to the point of injury. Only way Gio gets injured is if he had existing issue, which would have surfaced anyways once spring training starts up. Injury talk is for negative nancie's looking to complain.

  50. natsfan1a - Feb 11, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    I prefer to be addressed as "Nellie," 5c3. :-)

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