Skip to content

Gio Gonzalez on working out with Yankees great Jorge Posada

Jan 27, 2014, 10:50 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Gio Gonzalez has spent much of his offseason down in South Florida where he generally trains over the winter. He’s got family, friends, sunshine and workout facilities at the University of Miami, all he needs to get prepared for the new year.

This time around, however, he’s had some extra help. Four-time World Series champion and ex-Yankees catcher Jorge Posada has been catching Gonzalez’ bullpen sessions every Tuesday, and along the way imparting valuable knowledge from his 17-year MLB career.

The two came in contact with each other while working out at the U. of Miami, Gonzalez was lifting weights when the former backstop approached him.

“I remembered he asked me ‘when are you throwing a bullpen?’ I said ‘well I don’t have a guy to catch me, but I’ll find one,’” Gonzalez said.

“I thought he was going to say ‘I want to go see it.’ He said he wanted to catch me and I took a step back like ‘are you serious? Are you just messing with me?’”

Gonzalez met Posada at the field that next Tuesday and was surprised at how Posada appeared. He brought no catching mask, no gear, just a glove.

The lack of protection forced Gio to be a little careful with his pitches, not to throw too low and spike his battery mate. It also allowed bystanders to see who was working with him.

“When you have a football team at the University of Miami literally stop and point ‘that’s Jorge Posada,’ you know you are somebody,” Gonzalez said.

That day Gonzalez posted a photo to Instagram of he and Posada working out. The picture got picked up by numerous blogs, and apparently caused a stir among Yankees faithful.

“‘Ah man, now everyone thinks I’m coming back,’” Gio recalls Posada telling him.

Gonzalez and Posada generally work out with a full bullpen session before going their separate ways, but each time they reconvene afterwards to discuss Gio’s progress. Gonzalez has been receptive to Posada’s advice, as you can imagine.

“When he came up to me and started talking about pitching and pitching mechanics and stuff, you just sit there and listen. How many times is a four-title guy coming up to you and giving you information you can use?”

Posada has worked with some great pitchers over the years including Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite and Mike Mussina. All three were masterful at deceiving hitters, something Posada has worked with Gio on.

“Patience. You gotta learn how to hit your spots and mix it up. Change signs,” Gio said. “There’s things that he teaches you that make you sit back and you start analyzing. It’s a lot of work as a pitcher and he’s had nothing but Hall of Famers go through his hands.”

Gonzalez called training with Posada a “childhood dream” and an “inspiration.” With few bullpen sessions between them left before pitchers and catchers report, Gio is soaking up as much as he can. If he had it his way, he’d bring Posada with him to spring training and then to Washington.

“I told him ‘if you don’t wanna play, you could come over here and work for the Nats.’ He goes ‘I don’t think the Yankees would like that too much.’”

  1. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    Clemens also pitched for Posada.

    Awesome news. Hope he picks Po’s brains during season as well and gets better.

    and glad it wasn’t another famous Yankee that lives down there.

  2. scnatsfan - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    I wonder if Jorge would like to catch about 45 games this year… heck, he can pick the ones he wants!

    • Joe Seamhead - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      +1

  3. Joe Seamhead - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    I was reading this and thinking, Wow, maybe the Nats should hire Jorge as a consultant, or as a coach. Then I got to where he didn’t think that the Evil Empire would like that too much.

    How cool for Gio to have this time with the likes of Posada in an informal, friendly, private situation.

  4. sjm308 - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    This just makes you think how many really great “coaches” there are out there. We will apparently now have Livo in Fla. and the Yankees would be crazy not to ask Posada to do the same thing. It really is a matter of getting through to whoever is listening. I am convinced that what Shu was telling our guys was probably very close to what Eckstein was telling them but he did it in a way that got through to them. I just can’t imagine that McCatty has not told Gio in some form or another that he has to hit his spots, mix it up and change his signs. Still, I love hearing this stuff and it can’t do anything but help us.

  5. scnatsfan - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    sjm I agree. Sometimes its not the message but how it is delivered. In the case if someone like Posada he gets respect because of his resume; if he is personable and can give good advice then he’d be able to help alot of young pitchers, moreso then from an egghead catcher who never made it above A ball. Not against eggheads – I think I’m one – but sometimes a players accomplishments have others listening closer while a poor resume can lead to a lack of confidence in the message.

  6. Doc - Jan 27, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Great article Chase!

  7. Section 222 - Jan 27, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    This post gave me chills. So cool! Thanks Chase.

  8. flnatsfan - Jan 27, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Cuteness Alert! I wasn’t at Natsfest…but I wish I could’ve gone just to see Strasburg and Rendon answer the kid’s questions.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/little-girl-asks-stephen-strasburg-anthony-rendon-love-161935143–mlb.html

  9. David Proctor - Jan 27, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus on Giolito:

    “In 2013, I wanted to see signs that the pre surgery stuff had returned. A healthy Giolito is a frontline prospect, a pitcher with an excellent combination of size, present strength, two pitches that project to the elite level, and a third that shows above-average projection. Once the command returns, I expect Giolito to step forward as one of the premier arms in the minors, a rare number one starter in the making. For me, that ceiling warrants high praise despite limited professional experience.”

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 27, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      Interesting! I am still a bit cautious given his injury history. I think age may be a significant factor in his ranking. he is going to be 20 this July and likely be playing in AA by that time.

      • jd - Jan 27, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        I am always nervous about projecting young pitchers with such confidence. In fact I’ll bet you dollars do donuts that Giolito doesn’t sniff AA this year. No need to rush, let’s see how things go at Hagerstown first. Also, he’s almost sure to be shut down around August.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 27, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        if his third pitch is coming along nicely, there is no reason to keep him below AA. hopefully he performs well enough to get some innings in at AA before shutdown.

      • jd - Jan 27, 2014 at 2:46 PM

        The reason to keep him down below AA is that even A ball is better competition than he’s ever faced. By bringing him up slowly you make sure that he takes baby steps, has success at each level and also to minimize the risk of injury by ensuring that the pitch and inning counts are kept under control. The MLB landscape is littered with pitchers who have come up too quickly and have failed or have become injured, especially pitchers who were drafted out of high school.

        We all fall in love with our prospects and can’t way to see them in the show but the best way for them to have long big league careers is not to skip steps (especially true for pitchers). Do you think Bundy came up too quickly? (I do).

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 27, 2014 at 3:17 PM

        I don’t think Bundy came up too quickly. pitching in big leagues is different from minors but not in terms of total innings pitched and pitch count. it is unfortunate what happened to him, but I don’t think it was avoidable by having him remain in minors longer.

        Anyways, I am not arguing against giolito’s innings limit. I am also not talking about skipping steps. I want his development to happen at his speed. if his pace is faster than other minor leagues, I don’t want nationals to be hesitant in moving him along.

      • jd - Jan 27, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        Faraz,

        Also, it has taken A.J Cole 3 tries to graduate from A to high A and finally to AA. He’s another big time high school prospect slowly making it up the ladder. It ain’t that easy.

  10. tcostant - Jan 27, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    I’m a little disappointed that Gio hasn’t moved on from his University of Miami connections. It almost got him suspended last year, between the trainerat the University of Miami with Biogenius connections.

  11. Theophilus T.S. - Jan 27, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Ditto on the U stuff.

    I’m always amazed when a guy like Gonzalez, with ten years as a professional and 6-7 years in the majors, starts flapping about things like this [“Patience. You gotta learn how to hit your spots and mix it up. Change signs . . ..”]
    as if they’d never heard them before. What happened? Someone take a big ball of wax out of their ear(s)?

    • jd - Jan 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      I’m pretty sure that when Posada talks with Gio the conversation is a lot more specific than what’s in the article.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 27, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      do you just complain for the sake of complaining? sometimes you choose to take players’ word for what they say and sometimes you don’t. it is hilarious and annoying at the same time.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Jan 27, 2014 at 3:18 PM

        The truth is that he sounds like he has nothing to say. He could say, “From Posada I learned, specifically, x, y and z.” (Close to what he said but the quoted statement was so general as to be meaningless.) Or he could say, “I learned a lot of things about pitching from Posada that I have taken to heart and will apply to make myself a better pitcher.” (General but holding his new knowledge close to his vest.) Or he could say, “Posada has a way of teaching things about pitching that I was able to apply in ways I never could before.” I would prefer either of the latter statements as they allow me to imagine that he has actually learned something instead of having the same thing go in one ear and out the other again.

        All the above statement quoted by Chase suggests is that Gio hasn’t been paying attention the past ten years. (Which, based on some of his performances, wouldn’t be such a shock. But I would hope that’s not the case.)

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 27, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        You are just making assumptions about what he said, what he did not do for ten years, etc. I will leave you to it. I usually enjoy your posts when you are not being a bully to Strasburg and co.

  12. David Proctor - Jan 27, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    AJ Cole and Lucas Giolito are not in the same class of prospect. Giolito is an elite caliber prospect. Elite guys move quickly through the system. AJ Cole has always had a good fastball, but has had inconsistent breaking pitch. Giolito’s curveball ALREADY grades out as an 8 (on a scale of 8). It’s that good. If Giolito’s changeup continues to develop (it’s graded as a 6), then watch out.

  13. jd - Jan 27, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    David,

    Even with all that there is no certainty of success. You have to see how Giolito does against different levels which are always higher than what he’s faced before. In addition his body has not yet done developing. I don’t know how far back you go but I have vivid memories of pitchers such as David Clyde and Mark Fydrich who both made it to the majors at a tender age, their organizations joined in the wave of excitement ans saw their phenoms flame out as quickly as they came up. The expos had a young lefty by the name of Balor Moore in their 1st or 2nd years who could throw 100 MPH, that is until he blew his arm out in his 1st year.

    I think Rizzo has demonstrated that he;s smart enough to recognize the pitfalls of irrational exuberance and he won’t let this happen to his prized prospect.

    • ArVAFan - Jan 27, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      At Nats Fest, the Director of Player Development said that the Nats prospects sometimes rank lower on the various Prospect lists because the Lists see the baby Nats as “too old for the level.” He made it clear that the Nats are much more interested in making sure the prospects can succeed in the Show when they arrive than they are in various Lists. Others who were in the room can expand that if they care to.

      • David Proctor - Jan 27, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        This is true, but it really depends. Anthony Rendon was rushed up EXTREMELY quickly (only 78 minor league games). Bryce and Stras were both brought up quickly. Elite prospects generally get to the majors quickly. Giolito won’t be a factor in 2014 or the start of 2015, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him up sometime late in 2015 and certainly by 2016.

        People forget that Giolito likely would have been the #1 overall pick if not for the arm injury. He’s an elite prospect. That doesn’t GUARANTEE success, but your chances are a lot better.

      • jd - Jan 27, 2014 at 4:02 PM

        David,

        2 Main differences between the prospects you mention and Giolito.

        1) Rendon and Stras were older and drafted out of college.
        2) Harper was drafted out of high school (or Juco) but he’s not a pitcher.

        I don’t disagree with your timetable. If he pitches great at A and High A he should start 2015 at AA and could finish up with the big club provided there are no bumps on the road. I think there is a greater likelihood that his innings will be limited in both these years and that there will be some bumps along the way.

  14. David Proctor - Jan 27, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    Theo, reading your comments, one would think Gio Gonzalez pitched to a 5 ERA. It’s comical.

    • Jw - Jan 27, 2014 at 5:00 PM

      One thing about guys like Theo who are always pointing out how much smarter they are than everyone else. They never are.

  15. natsfan1a - Jan 27, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    D**n Yankees. ;-)

    “I told him ‘if you don’t wanna play, you could come over here and work for the Nats.’ He goes ‘I don’t think the Yankees would like that too much.’”

  16. Joe Seamhead - Jan 27, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    You all are killing me. The top of the post was:
    “Gio Gonzalez has spent much of his offseason down in South Florida where he generally trains over the winter”.

    He spent it with Jorge Posada teaching him a few things.

    Sometimes we all need to get over ourselves.

    Just another Joe Seamhead Editorial

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 19
ATLANTA 72 66 7.0
MIAMI 67 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 74 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 63 74 15.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter