Mar 4, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT
Michael Gonzalez, a key member of the Nationals’ division-winning bullpen in 2012, is returning to the organization.
The Nationals have signed Gonzalez to a minor-league contract with an invitation to big-league camp, offering him an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster as the club’s second left-handed reliever.
Gonzalez, 35, joined the Nats in May 2012 on a similar minor-league deal and joined the major-league bullpen one month later. He became a stalwart for the NL East champs, posting a 3.03 ERA in 47 appearances.
The Nationals had some interest in re-signing Gonzalez last winter, but he signed with the Brewers for $2.25 million. He wound up appearing in 75 games but saw his ERA balloon to 4.68 and his WHIP to a career-worst 1.660.
Once he reports to Viera, Gonzalez will join a wide-open competition for the one or two spots up for grabs in the Nationals’ bullpen. The club plans to have newly acquired Jerry Blevins serve as their top left-handed reliever, but manager Matt Williams has said he’d prefer a second lefty if possible.
The other candidates in camp include Xavier Cedeno, who pitched well in a brief stint with the Nationals last season, and Ross Detwiler, who could wind up in the bullpen if he doesn’t win the competition for the No. 5 spot in the Opening Day rotation.
NL EAST STANDINGS
x-Clinched division title
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule
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.
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