Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
After winning 21 games for the nation's capital's Washington Nationals in 2012, Nats' lefty Gio Gonzalez has reportedly accepted an invitation to pitch for Team USA in the upcoming 2013 World Baseball Classic. Team USA announced the newest addition to their roster via Twitter this afternoon.
In an MLB Network Radio interview with hosts Casey Stern and Jim Bowden earlier this winter, Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo said that he had reached out to the manager of the US team for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, Joe Torre, and told him, "... we certainly want to put the best and the brightest players on the field and if we could help in that we would certainly do so and we'd have no qualms about letting any of our position players certainly play in the Classic." When it came to pitchers, the 52-year-old GM and Executive Vice President of Baseball Ops in D.C. said, "... it would be on a case-by-case basis." The Nationals hadn't been asked about sending anyone to the WBC at that point, however, at least not by the US Team. Danny Espinosa (who's recovering from a torn rotator cuff) was announced as part of Mexico's roster, and Curacao-born outfielder Roger Bernadina reportedly plans on representing the Netherlands. A number of Nats' prospects and minor leaguers are expected to participate as well.
Apparently someone eventually did call and ask about one of the Nationals' pitchers though, as USA Baseball announced a new addition to the rotation via Twitter this afternoon (@USABaseball):
In his first season in the National League following the December 2011 trade that brought Gonzalez to the nation's capital from Oakland, the left-hander led the majors with 21 wins and posted a 2.89 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 76 walks (3.43 BB/9) and 207 Ks (9.35 K/9) in 32 starts and 199.1 IP over which he was worth +5.4 fWAR. Gonzalez joins a USA rotation that includes Cy Young Award-winning knuckler R.A. Dickey, Texas Rangers' lefty Derek Holland, the San Francisco Giants' Ryan Vogelsong and potentially Justin Verlander or Jake Peavy as CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported recently though neither pitcher has committed at this point. Braves' right-hander Kris Medlen (who's awaiting the birth of his first child) and Andy Pettitte have recently decided not to take part in the international tournament which takes place from March 2nd-19th.
This does, of course, mean that Gonzalez will miss significant time during his second Spring Training with Washington. Bryce Harper told reporters last month that he decided against participating in the WBC because he wanted to concentrate on getting prepared for his first full season as a member of the major league roster.
Gonzalez's name has been in the news recently for other reasons. The Nats' starter has been tied to the recent PED-related scandal centered around a Miami, FL-area anti-aging clinic. Gonzalez's name appears in the notes of the clinic's chief, Anthony Bosch, but after making an initial public denial of any personal connection to the anti-aging clinic or Mr. Bosch, the left-hander has remained silent on the matter.