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Oct. 6 G. Gonzalez interview

Q. Gio, what do you see from the St. Louis lineup that you're going to face tomorrow?

GIO GONZALEZ:Impressive. You know, last night watching their game, they are never going to quit. Their guys are very patient and at times they need to be aggressive and produce runs. They are a smart playing ballclub. They lay the bunts down when they need to and get runners over. Just gotta pick up little things like that. My job is to keep us as tight as much as possible, keep us in the game and just let our bullpen go out there and try to shut it down for us.

Q.When you faced these guys in the year, I think it was one of your best starts, does that matter? Do you take anything from that?

GIO GONZALEZ:Just it's a different scenario. It was at home and now we are at their place. Build a little more confidence when you're at home, but now you know where you're at. These guys, they are alert and I'm going to have to be alert and going to have to change the game plan a little bit. Pretty sure they are not going to go out there with the same mentality. Again, this is a team that knows how to bounce back and can make situations happen when they need to. I think that's my job, and I have to understand it, is to keep us in the game as much as possible, let our team go out there and score some runs. Watching their game last night it was very impressive. Carlos did a great job keeping his team in the game; seeing him out there competing, that's the kind of stuff that you pick up and try to feed off of. I'm very impressed with the way they were going out there and playing the game. So when you look at it like that, there's a reason why they have won the World Series before. So just got to go out there and try to compete and do the best you can. It's a first experience, learning curve for me, and to do it here in St. Louis to me is a privilege and an honor.

Q.You mentioned it's a first experience for you. How much have you thought about this moment growing up and what are the emotions you expect to kind of factor in to making this most season start?

GIO GONZALEZ:It's a childhood dream. I think it's every kid's childhood dream who wants to play baseball. To represent not only D.C. and the Washington Nationals, but the players who have played in this uniform; to me, most important, my family, just to say that I represent the Gonzalez family, represent the City of Hialeah. There's so many things that factor into this that you take it with a smile. It's the first time ever experiencing this, to represent such a great organization, such great rotation, great lineup, it's unbelievable. To go out there to be with the starting pitcher, especially with the big games like, this just lets you know what they think about me and how honored and humbled I am about it.

Q.You went through the season never missing a start, almost every fifth day you were out there and now you've had a pretty long layoff since your last start; how do you feel physically going in and what have you done to sort of keep yourself as on schedule as you can?

GIO GONZALEZ:The change that every fifth day has to be every seven days now. It's definitely a learning curve. I definitely have to go out there and still palm the strike zone, keep the ball down, make the adjustments that I need to. Still working with Steve McCatty, watching some of the guys pitch. We have great veterans on our rotation that know and have experienced this. You have a great mind like Edwin Jackson, a guy who's experienced and won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals; just lets you know that we have some guys that are willing to help out if we are in a pinch. And not only that, you've got Jordan Zimmerman, Ross Detwiler, guys that are going to come up big and that we feel are strong about how they pitch, and our bullpen, too. I think I've been saying it all year in. The reason for most of our success is our bullpen. These guys come in and shut it down. Davey is known for pulling a guy out in the sixth and seventh, and that's where the bullpen comes in. They come in and shut it down for us. They have cleaned up plenty of our messes and they deserve all the credit in the world.

Q.Could you describe how you feel right now, nervous, your emotions? And on top of that, being the first time, are you going to do everything as you normally do before a start, still get your haircut, is the routine still the same for tomorrow?

GIO GONZALEZ:I made sure I got one right now, in fact. I was just getting one right now. One of our friends from Hialeah, well, from Miami, we call him Hugo, Hugo Boss, most of the guys, they call him the playoff barber, so hopefully he does something good. I told him, he can't wear St. Louis stuff, though in a nice way. Obviously it's a great organization cleaning my tracks right there. (Laughter.) To me I try to stick with the same routine, have some fun. I know these guys, you've got to understand it, and what I've experienced in talking to some of the veteran guys that have World Series experience and playoff atmosphere is that, try not to change anything but understand that it will be very tough and pitches will be very tough. You just have to mentally prepare yourself and pound the strike zone. I'm excited. I'm not in any way, shape or form trying to show any signs of weakness or anything like that. I'm just too excited about it. I mean, first time ever to experience something like this, and to do it to a team that's won the World Series last year it's a privilege. Like I said, I am humbled, I am grateful for the experience that I'm going through now to pitch against one of the greatest teams that's been playing for years. You know, to me, it's an honor.

Q.You mentioned all the other guys in the rotation, but somewhere along the way, you established yourself as the No. 1 and Davey obviously is entrusting you with that job. Do you embrace that idea? Do you relish that idea of now going into the post season as the ace, for lack of a better term?

GIO GONZALEZ:The credit, I can't accept it. I think that we have such a great lineup that every time it feels like when I've gone out there, they have given me four or five runs, six runs; times where it was almost to the point where I've had 15 runs in a game. To me, when your team is performing and playing hard behind you, it's just you've got to do your part and try to keep your team in the game and have some fun. I think that they play hard every game and it just feels like they go out there and put an extra notch. Same thing with our bullpen. Same thing with them, our catching. Kurt Suzuki, Jesus Flores, Wilson Ramos, guys that have been doing this all year and supporting us, helping us win some ball games, I think that for me to take the role as the ace, I'm humbled, I'm grateful, but at the same time, there's plenty of guys in this rotation that deserve that kind of credit.

Q.What went through your mind when they told you you were going to be Game 1 starter of the Division Series?

GIO GONZALEZ:What went through my mind? Back flips. Cartwheels. Excitement. Just look at it for what it was. It was a moment that at same time we clinched and had the celebration, all this was going through my mind. It was one of those things where you experience and have some fun. I think that I enjoyed it, I had my time to enjoy the moment, and now the table is turned, you have to turn the page and you have to look forward to this team. St. Louis is not going to be easy to face. These guys are mentally ready. They have been through the experience. They know what it's like. And remember, we are still young in this group. We are still learning the curves. We are still learning our experiences. But we are just going to have some fun. We are going to go out there and try to play our best and keep it fair enough. Hopefully we go toe to toe but it's going to be some fun.

Q.Your first year in D.C., can you give us a sense of what type of manager Davey Johnson?

GIO GONZALEZ:Unbelievable. I think he's a player's coach. He's a guy that brings excitement. He's always smiling. I think with Davey, he's just got to stay healthy. He's a guy that you're happy for him; you see that he's gone through the ups, he's seen the downs, and what he's doing this year and what he's done this year is unbelievable. To do something that has not been done since 1933 is remarkable, especially for a manager like that that's been through a lot of World Series experience and got a team like this; to turn them from a last place team to winning a division is unbelievable. I'm just honored to be right beside a manager like that. It's just a guy that you want to win every game for.

Q.You and Stephen are real close, you guys developed an unbelievable relationship this year; do you feel like tomorrow you might be pitching for both you guys?

GIO GONZALEZ:I think Stephen has done plenty for us this year, a guy who has won 15 games, an All Star. He's also a guy that just came out of Tommy John. You can't ask for more, what he's done for us. I think if I do pitch for Washington, D.C., it will definitely be for our team. You want to win every game and this is one of the experiences that you're going to have to learn. It's great to have him here and he deserves to be a part of it just as much as we do. We would love to have him in our rotation. We would love to have him play now, but I think that we are both going to experience this together and we are both going to have some great times. This is an honor to be playing next to a guy who is going to be a superstar in the making.

Q.You mentioned the cold weather, I know you're a warm weather guy

GIO GONZALEZ:I'm trembling right now. It's not my nerves, it's just the cold. (Laughter.)

Q.How do you feel about pitching in that kind of weather?

GIO GONZALEZ:Oakland was a very cold weather kind of place. I felt like it never got warm. Believe it or not, I was cracking up about it before this conversation, we came here like a week ago, it was nice and sunny and 75 and you're out in shorts. Now you need sweat pants, you need a long sleeved shirt. You need to stay warm, because it's cold out there. I'm excited. I think that kind of weather is good. It just gives you a little more energy, you can breathe a little bit. It expands your lungs, and hopefully we'll see tomorrow I heard it's going to be 65 and sunny. So turn the heaters on.