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Becoming a father changed Gio's perspective

Nats left-hander welcomed baby Enzo in March 2016
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- It's the happiest memory of Gio Gonzalez's life, and he remembers it all so vividly. On a Spring Training morning of March 17, 2016, he got the call and sprinted into manager Dusty Baker's office.

"I told Dusty, 'I gotta go, man'," Gonzalez recalled with a wide smile. "'This is it. Léa's about to give birth,'"

WASHINGTON -- It's the happiest memory of Gio Gonzalez's life, and he remembers it all so vividly. On a Spring Training morning of March 17, 2016, he got the call and sprinted into manager Dusty Baker's office.

"I told Dusty, 'I gotta go, man'," Gonzalez recalled with a wide smile. "'This is it. Léa's about to give birth,'"

Gonzalez stayed in the hospital room the entire time as his fiancee, Léa, gave birth to their first son, Enzo Louis. And even 15 months later, he still beams to recall the details of that day, which Gonzalez says he carries with him in the back of his head.

:: Father's Day 2017 ::

"Once Enzo was in my arms, it was like this new meaning to my life," Gonzalez said. "New meaning to what I wanted to do. Obviously I want to do the best I can as a father and everything I can for him."

Fatherhood has been good for Gonzalez, 31, who laughed and said he now knows the meaning of being tired.

Gonzalez went all out for Enzo's first birthday earlier this year, hosting a Tarzan-themed party for him. And during the season, Gonzalez helps Léa as much as possible at their home in Bethesda, Md.

"You come home and you still have responsibilities," Gonzalez said. "Your day doesn't go about pouting. Good or bad, you have a little one to attend to. ... When times are tough or something like that, there's still responsibilities, still that respect you have to have that this is work and this is home.

"I've realized that when I'm done [with work], I leave everything here. When I get home, there's nothing to talk about but life, family things. I get that now. I get the responsibility of a mother, responsibility of a father and still learning from it."

Last season was tough on the field for Gonzalez, as he endured perhaps the worst season of his career with a career-high 4.57 ERA. But he has bounced back strong and is currently enjoying one of the best years of his career. His ERA is the lowest it has been since 2012, when he was last an All-Star, won 21 games and finished third in the voting for the National League Cy Young Award.

And even if Enzo might not be old enough to appreciate it all right now, it has been a joy for Gonzalez to be able to pitch with his son in the stands.

"It's pretty incredible, pretty remarkable to know that I get to do something in front of my son, hopefully for the next couple years," Gonzalez said. "He gets to see his father play a sport that he'll get to treasure, and hopefully he does in the future."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Gio Gonzalez