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Washington Nationals vs Miami Marlins: Grapefruit League GameThread - Gio Gonzalez makes 2018 Spring debut....

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Gio Gonzalez takes the mound for the Nationals this afternoon in Grapefruit League action against the Miami Marlins from the recently-renamed FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches...

MLB: Washington Nationals-Media Day Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Gio Gonzalez guaranteed a seventh season in D.C. when he reached 180 IP (for the first time in three seasons) last summer triggering a clause in his contract that will pay him $12M in 2018.

Gonzalez, who was acquired from the Oakland A’s in December of 2011 and signed to a 5-year/$42M extension a month later, has been around for each of the Nationals’ four trips to the postseason, and has seen a lot change in the nation’s capital since he arrived.

In an interview with MASN’s Sara Perlman earlier this Spring, the now-32-year-old lefty was asked what’s different this time around from previous seasons.

“Managers, new coaching staff, I mean that’s pretty much it,” Gonzalez said. “We have some young faces, young guys coming up, some new guys coming up. There is a lot going on this year, but a lot of positives that are coming out. We have a lot of excitement here.”

Gonzalez finished the 2017 campaign, his tenth in the majors, with a (15-9) record in 32 starts, a 2.96 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 79 walks (3.54 BB/9), 188 Ks (8.42 K/9), and a .213/.298/.345 line against over 201 innings.

It was a nice bounce-back season for the southpaw, who could be headed for free agency next winter along with a number of his teammates.

Gonzalez talked about the changes he made and what went right for him in 2017 before his start against the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS last October.

“Just constantly trying to re-evolve, trying to find a new way to throw strikes,” Gonzalez said.

“The game’s changing,” he explained. “If you’re seeing, the hitting is pretty tough. So for us, it’s trying to attack the strike zone, trying to lock in immediately. You can’t let yourself get in a groove after giving up a couple runs. You have to get it going right off the bat.”

Gonzalez will try to get off to a good start in 2018 when he takes the mound for his first Grapefruit League start this afternoon against the Miami Marlins in FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

HERE’S THE NATS’ LINEUP BEHIND GIO TODAY IN WEST PALM BEACH: