VIERA, Fla. - Gio Gonzalez is excited to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, but the Nationals lefty will need to wait until the second round of the tournament before taking the mound for his country.
Nats manager Davey Johnson was informed by Team USA pitching coach Greg Maddux that Gonzalez will pitch in the WBC March 12, should Team USA not be eliminated in the initial pool stage.
This would allow Gonzalez to make three spring training starts for the Nationals, which Johnson says will be on Feb. 25, March 2 and March 7, before leaving to join Team USA in Miami for the second round.
There is the possibility, of course, that Team USA is eliminated in the first round and Gonzalez never actually gets to join the team or participate in any of the games.
The Nationals have been coordinating Gonzalez's schedule with the Team USA coaching staff over the last handful of days after learning that Gonzalez had accepted manager Joe Torre's invitation to join the team.
There are a set of rules in place to ensure that pitchers don't get overworked during the WBC.
Pitchers taking part in the WBC are not allowed to throw more than 65 pitches per game in the first round, 80 pitches per game in the second round or 95 pitches per game in the championship round, unless the pitcher needs more to complete a batter's plate appearance.
There are also rules that make sure that a pitcher cannot pitch until a minimum of four days have passed since he last pitched if he threw 50 or more pitches.
Gonzalez threw a bullpen session during this morning's workout, and looked sharp. I'll have notes on Gonzalez's mound session and the workout overall, in a bit.