Gio Gonzalez Will Pitch World Baseball Classic vs. Puerto Rico

Brad Mills- USA Today Sports

Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez will be returning to his home town of Miami-Hialeah, FL under much better circumstances than he may have just a month ago. Instead of having to answer questions about his association with a Miami based anti-aging clinic accused of providing performance enhancing drugs to MLB players, Gonzalez will be pitching for Team USA against Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

Gonzalez was chosen to pitch for Team USA by manager Joe Torre amidst an investigation in which his name was linked to Dr. Anthony Bosch. Dr. Bosch has been accused of supplying PED’s to MLB players. Gonzalez has denied taking PED’s and all of the current evidence supports his case. An ESPN ‘Outside the Lines’ report revealed sources that said Gonzalez had bought $1,000 worth of supplements from Bosch, but none of them were banned substances. Gonzalez also reportedly passed a drug test.

With the PED accusations all but behind him, Gonzalez can concentrate on getting himself ready to pitch for Team USA. He did not join the team during first round pool play in Arizona as Torre wanted to save Gonzalez for the championship round. While the ace left hander made a couple of spring training starts for the Nationals, Team USA went 2-1 (losing to Mexico) in pool play to advance to the second round. Gonzalez left to join the team on Monday.

The matchup against Puerto Rico will be a tough one played in a highly charged atmosphere. Gonzalez will be expected to pitch all out and will. Anyone would give their best in front of their hometown fans with national pride on the line. The Nationals hope that Gonzalez does not overdo it and exits the game with his health intact. Winning for one’s country is nice, but Gonzalez is paid to win games for Washington. Still, his return as the local boy who made good is a nice story.

Gonzalez was buoyed by a strong start in 2012. After putting together his best season in the majors at 21-8 with a 2.89 ERA, Gonzalez would like to start 2013 on a high note. A sharp performance in the WBC would be good for everyone from Gonzalez to Team USA to his hometown fans to the Nationals. Confidence plays a major role in sports and if Gonzalez has it going into April, he will be tough to beat.

For now, Gonzalez’s focus is on beating Puerto Rico. He has weathered the storm of controversy and come out on the other end. His hometown hero status is still intact and the fans will come out to see him pitch on Tuesday.

Thankfully for all involved, Gonzalez will be returning to Miami with a clear mind and no questions to answer about PED’s. The home town boy can live out a dream come true.

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