Davey Johnson never doubted Gio Gonzalez. As he explained before the 27-year-old left-hander's last start, he spoke to his pitcher as soon as Gonzalez's name was mentioned in connection with the Biogenesis scandal and the conversation convinced him that the Hialeah, FL-born starter was telling the truth.
"I've never been really concerned about it," Johnson said. "I had a conversation with him in the Spring, when it all came up and had a nice talk about it and he wasn't concerned about it, just was -- of course, like anybody else -- was upset that he was even linked to it. But it is a relief that now everybody knows that it wasn't a problem. It's just another distraction you don't have to deal with."
When Major League Baseball handed down their suspensions last week, their official press release included the following paragraph which concerned the results of their investigation into the Nationals' pitcher's alleged involvement with the "anti-aging" clinic which is accused of providing PEDs to professional athletes:
"Major League Baseball's investigation found no violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by either Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez or Baltimore Orioles infielder Danny Valencia."
Davey Johnson said he thought Gonzalez had handled the scrutiny well this season, in his second go-round in D.C. after the Nats acquired the lefty from Oakland in the winter of 2011.
"I think he's handled it great," the Nats' 70-year-old manager said. "He doesn't need to explain anything as far as I'm concerned. It's been over from the get-go. In his case, I wish they could have cleared it up earlier and made an announcement earlier. The only thing I disagree with MLB, they could have cleared those guys earlier."
Gonzalez too was relieved with the results of the investigation and eager to put it all behind him as he explained in a public statement:
"I am very pleased that Major League Baseball has cleared my name. With this process now complete, I have no lingering sense of animosity, as I quickly realized that the objective of this investigation was to clean up our game. This is an ideal that I share with both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. I would also like to acknowledge the unwavering support of my teammates, the Lerner Family, Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson, our coaching staff and Nationals fans everywhere."
The night after MLB's announcement, Gonzalez went out and made a strong start in a 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves, allowing six hits, a walk and two runs, both earned, in seven innings on the mound. Of course, it was during the game Bryce Harper was hit by Julio Teheran, so the lefty's outing didn't get much attention, but he bounced back nicely from his shortest outing of the year in his previous start on the road in Detroit, which saw him allow 11 hits and 10 ER in just 3 1/3 IP.
"I thought he was outstanding," Johnson told reporters after Gonzalez's start against the Braves, though he pointed out that a failed bunt attempt by the pitcher had cost the team. It was the 16th of 23 starts this season in which Gonzalez (7-5, 3.52 ERA) allowed two earned runs or less, but the first one in which he'd taken a loss after going (6-0) with the Nationals 10-5 in the previous 15 outings in which he'd allowed fewer than two earned runs.
Gonzalez faces the San Francisco Giants for the second time this season on Tuesday night. In a May 22nd start in AT&T Park, the left-hander held the defending World Series Champs to one run on four hits in 7 1/3 IP of a 2-1 Nationals' win. Gonzalez will try to keep the Nats' three-game win streak going when he faces the Giants in the nation's capital, where he's (4-3) with a 3.03 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 27 walks (3.27 BB/9) and 74 Ks (8.96 K/9) in 74 1/3 IP in 2013, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .229/.303/.360 line.
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