Gio 'having fun out there' during first spring start
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez pitched his first game of the spring against the Mets and was solid in a 6-4 victory on Monday night. Gonzalez pitched two scoreless innings, allowed no hits and struck out three batters.
Gonzalez found himself in some trouble in the first inning. It turned out that he had mechanical issues that were straightened out by the end of the frame. The Mets had runners on second and third with one out, but Gonzalez struck out Ike Davis and got Marlon Byrd to pop up to shortstop Zach Walters to end the inning.
Gonzalez was able to retire the side in order in the second inning, striking out two batters. It helped that his curveball was in midseason form. His fastball was clocked as a high as 93 mph with movement, according to manager Davey Johnson.
"I felt good. I was having fun out there," Gonzalez said. "The important part was that you saw everyone that was playing was having fun. I think [catcher Chris] Synder did a great job, calling a great game. He is such a hard target to miss. He is such a big guy. He did a great job."
Said Johnson: "Gio was great. He had a little rough first inning, but he was ... like his normal self in the second. That's all I needed."
The game marked the first time Gonzalez pitched in a game since The Miami New Times linked the pitcher to Anthony Bosch, who reportedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes.
Gonzalez was pleased that the fans supported him while he was on the mound. While he was doing sprints on the warning track, fans continued to give Gonzalez support. While leaving the stadium, he was seen giving fans his autograph.
"It's good to get on that mound again and get back at it, especially with the fan support I was getting out there," Gonzalez said. "It was good to hear that the fans still support you and still love you. There were a little butterflies, which is a good thing. When you get that feeling, it means that baseball hasn't left your emotions or anything like that. When I got the first pitch out of the way, I was pretty excited to go out there and play my game."
Gonzalez will make two more starts before going to the World Baseball Classic. He is expected to join Team USA in Miami. In his next start, which will be against the Cardinals on Saturday, Gonzalez will pitch three innings and then go four innings in the next start after that.
"To represent Team USA is the biggest honor," Gonzalez said. "I think to pitch alongside Ross Detwiler and some of the guys that they have on that side, it's going to be fun. We can pick up from each other and learn from each other. I can't wait to get into that dugout and talk to the guys."