In his first year in the National League following the December 2011 trade that brought him to the nation's capital from the Oakland A's, left-hander Gio Gonzalez won 21 games, going (21-8) with a 2.89 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 76 BB (3.43 BB/9) and 207 Ks (9.35 K/9) in 32 starts and 199.1 inning pitched for the NL East champion Washington Nationals. Gonzalez finished 3rd in Cy Young award voting, living up to the expectations Nats' GM Mike Rizzo set when he acquired the left-hander in a 4-for-2 deal that sent three of the Nationals' top pitching prospect and their top backstop prospect to the Athletics.
Unfortunately, the big story involving the 27-year-old this winter has been about Gonzalez's alleged ties to a Coral Gables, Florida-based anti-aging clinic called Biogenesis and its chief, Anthony Bosch, who was accused in a Miami New Times' report of having supplied performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes.
The latest revelations in that ongoing story have supported Gonzalez's original denial of any connection to the clinic, Mr. Bosch or any PEDs. An ESPN investigative report last week, quoting two sources with knowledge of the clinic's activities and citing information found on a "computer printout," from the clinic, uncovered evidence that they thought proved Gonzalez had never received any banned substances:
"According to two sources familiar with Bosch's operation, however, the Washington Nationals' Gio Gonzalez, previously identified as being named in Biogenesis documents, did not receive banned substances from Bosch or the clinic."
Gonzalez told reporters late last week that he had received word from the MLBPA that he had passed blood and urine tests conducted in the days after the Miami New Times' report was originally published. There's still no official word from Major League Baseball on their investigation into the claims made in the Miami New Times' article.
Tonight, Gonzalez gets to put all that behind him and return to the mound for the first time this Spring. The left-hander and a team full of Washington Nationals' bench players, prospects and fringe-y, bubble-types is in Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field tonight to take on the New York Mets in Game 3 of the Grapefruit League season. Here's the Nationals' lineup that will take the field behind Gonzalez:
The Nationals and Mets are on the MLB Network tonight and you can also watch the game on MLB.tv at 6:00 pm EST.