VIERA, Fla. - After fielding five minutes of questions about his link to Biogenesis, the anti-aging clinic that has allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to players, Gio Gonzalez shifted to answering questions about his decision to suit up for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Gonzalez recently got a voice mail from Team USA's manager, Joe Torre, inviting Gonzalez to join in on the WBC action. Gonzalez said he didn't really need to give the invitation much thought before accepting.
"I feel it's an honor," Gonzalez said. "You get to play for your country, and it happens every four years. To even be selected or be mentioned has to be the top of your performance. I think to represent the United States, that says it by itself."
Some might feel that if Gonzalez was truly at risk of being suspended by Major League Baseball for his involvement with Biogenesis or the possible purchase of performance-enhancing drugs, he wouldn't have been offered a spot on Team USA's roster.
Gonzalez seems to feel that way.
"If you get a call from Joe Torre, you know something's going good and you feel confident that he believes in you and he wants you to represent him at the top of your peak," Gonzalez said. "Everyone has their doubts, everyone has their beliefs, but at the end of the day, I'm still playing, I'm still staying positive."
Gonzalez, a Hialeah, Fla., native, joked that there's one benefit of being a part of Team USA's roster. "Now, people will know that I'm actually from here," he said with a smile.
The downside is a potential risk of injury, but Gonzalez isn't worried about that.
"No, I've been blessed. I've never been injured in eight or nine MLB seasons, in minor leagues and the big leagues," Gonzalez said. "I thank God, knock on wood for that. But you look at the positives. It's something that you're going to do it anyways. You've got to throw anyways, so might as well represent your country and do it out there."
Gonzalez will leave to join Team USA either March 2 or 3, giving him a couple weeks at Nats camp to get in some work with Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty before he ships off.
The routine will stay the same for Gonzalez, who plans to treat this just like any other spring.
"You don't change it," he said. "I'm going to be working with Cat and we're going to keep going. We're going to try and stay throwing my bullpens. I might get two games in and then head out."