Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gio pumped up during Nats debut

Associated Press photo
Gio Gonzalez tossed three scoreless innings today against the Braves.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Gio Gonzalez's first pitch as a member of the Nationals clocked in at 94 mph, eyebrows began to raise. When his final pitch of the first inning registered 95 mph, conspiracy theories suddenly abounded.

Does Gonzalez usually hit 95 mph the first time he takes the mound for spring training?

"No," he said. "I'm always at 105."

The left-hander cracked a wide smile, and why not at the end of a very impressive debut performance in the Nationals' 5-2 exhibition win over the Braves. Over three sparkling innings, Gonzalez allowed just one hit and one walk, striking out two and consistently throwing his fastball around 92-93 mph (his average velocity last season was 92.8 mph).

But about that 95 mph on a fastball to Freddie Freeman to end the bottom of the first...

"I think their guns were juiced a little bit," Gonzalez said. "So I don't know if it was really 95. But my adrenaline was kicking. My arm felt live."

Whether the readings were accurate or not, the Nationals emerged from the day impressed with what they saw from their new No. 2 starter. Looking every bit like a two-time 16-game winner, he was all jokes in the clubhouse before and after the game but was all business once he stepped on the mound.

"I thought Gio was great," manager Davey Johnson said. "He didn't look very rusty at all to me. Threw the ball good. Had some great curveballs. ... It was fun seeing him. We've got one more guy [Jordan Zimmermann, scheduled to start tomorrow] and I'll feel like we're whole. But he was special."

Gonzalez was admittedly overanxious entering his first start with the Nationals following an All-Star season with the Athletics. Pitching coach Steve McCatty noticed it and told the lefty his adrenaline was kicking in and that he just needed to relax.

Gonzalez cast aside those jitters as soon as he toed the rubber to face a Braves lineup featuring a host of regulars (including Michael Bourn, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward).

This won't be the last time Gonzalez encounters that same Atlanta lineup; the two NL East foes meet 18 times a season, and the Nationals have already locked up Gonzalez to a five-year extension.

"Right off the bat facing one of your division rivals, it's pretty hard," he said. "They're a good-hitting team, you can tell, right off the bat. They're very aggressive hitters, so my job was just to keep the ball down and try to work on just making contact, keep the pitch count low."

But back to that 95 mph heater. The Nationals haven't boasted many left-handers who could dial things up to that level, perhaps only Ross Detwiler last fall and reliever Bill Bray in 2006.

They'll happily take it from Gonzalez.

"I didn't feel it too much, but the gun says what it says," he said. "I guess I'm trying to play tricks on my arm."

33 comments:

baseballswami said...

Music to my Nats-fan ears!Jordan tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

1 BB in 3 innings?! Nice!

dfh21

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Is Scooter still down there? Can't miss Jordan.

MurrayTheRed said...

All is good in NatsTown.

sm13 said...

Gio is my hero!

sm13 said...

Gio is my hero!

NatsJack in Florida said...

Scooter is flying back tonite. I enjoyed hanging with him and his Dad over the weekend.

He got to see my "under the radar" guy, Christian Garcia in the minor league intersquad game yesterday afernoon.

MicheleS said...

NatsJack.. did you see the reports of Nats moving to Ft Myers? Gammons tweeted earlier today about it.

Anonymous said...

I thought Jordan Zimmermann was the No. 2 starter and Gio was #3.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Actually, one of my projects is the Lee County Fire Administration Facility that has been on hold for 18 months. Money is a big issue down there.

However, that has been talk for about a year now concerning the Nats. Alot will depend on how big the renovation (and knowing the facility, it will be substantial) is that the Nats expect.

JaneB said...

Is this a typo? JORDAN IS THE NUMBER TWO GUY IN OUR ROTATION! AT least that's what I thought. And hoped. Even though I am loving Gio.

Unkyd said...

I doubt Stras, Gio, and Zimnn are stressing much over 1,2 or 3.... So it's all good to me, as long as they're wearing Curly Ws...

sm13 said...

We have 3 number 1s. The order is kind of irrelevant.

MicheleS said...

I think the only reason he is considered "#2" is he is a lefty and they want to break up the power righties. (and I would love to have JZNN get the first start - he deserves and it will probably be his last opportunity to be the opening day starter)

But yes SM13 is right, we have 3 number 1s.. order is irrelevant...

MicheleS said...

And for your viewing pleasure tonight.. Instead of Spring training replay of today's game - We have Nats Classic, last year Stras's Return.

bdrube said...

All those who were fretting about what we gave up in the Gio trade can now chill out and take a pill for the moment. We got a potential top notch starter for four guys who may never establish themselves as solid major leaguers. Not that I'll be rooting against them, but Peacock had had only one great season, Milone was a Lannan clone, Norris's drop off in offensive production was worrisome and Cole was still four levels removed from playing in the bigs.

SCNatsFan said...

I think the debate who is 1, 2 or 3 is a media driven argument or someone who posts who isn't familiar with the idea that the team comes first. While I suspect SS, Zimm and Gio all want to be pushed and be considered #1 I would bet as long as the team wins they will be happy with the day they get the ball.

JaneB said...

Okay. I'll pipe down now, I just didn't want Jordan dissed. I already love Gio but it feels like Jordan is doomed to be in the shadows if only because he's on the same team with Stras.

Waddu eye no said...

"No," he said. "I'm always at 105."

Natitude

baseballswami said...

How about 1a, 1b and 1c? But -- Jordan is the true number one with this fan!!!!! By the way, Tommy Milone did a fantastic job with the A's today, Peacock not so much last night, though. I do wish them well. I think the best trades are the ones where things work out for both teams. I am taking to Gio more each day.

MicheleS said...

Umm.. we already have a 1A...She is eating bon bon's right now because it's a marathon not a sprint...

Cwj said...

Gio is awesome. Seeing a couple interviews with him, he seems like a classy guy.

Btw, last year he threw his curveball 27.8% of the time which was the 3rd highest % in MLB. And opponents had only a .696 OPS against that pitch, second best among leftie starters.

If his walks go down this year, he'll be something to see this season.

All of the Nats starting 4 will be very, very good.

SCNatsFan said...

cwj, I agree, the top 4 will be solid and if it falls as a true 5 vs 5 on another team I think our 5th guy will be solid. If this team fails this year it won't be because of the starters or the pen - knock on wood they all stay healthy.

Cwj said...

I think the rotation order may be something like, 1. Zimmermann (R)
2. Gonzalez (L)
3. Strasburg (R)
4. Jackson (R)
5. Hopefully a leftie like Lannan or Detwiler.

That order would be a nice split between righties and lefties, and not based on who is better than who.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks for having my back, MicheleS. Actually, there's a 1b and a 1c as well (my Chicago baseball buddy and my hubby). :-) But how did you know I was eating bon-bons?

On the pitcher front, I think it's a nice problem to have, debating which pitcher is the number one.

MicheleS said...

Umm.. we already have a 1A...She is eating bon bon's right now because it's a marathon not a sprint...
March 06, 2012 9:23 PM

HHover said...

Cwj

Agreed on all the above--but with the proviso that if Gio's walks don't go down, he could end up being a mild to significant disappointment, esp. to those folks who have inflated expectations for him. His WHIP last year was pretty pedestrian (b/c of all those walks) and he got lucky in LOB.

Cwj said...

We should add "Mid-Season Form" to the cliche list :-)
That's a phrase I've read about a thousand times since ST began.

natsfan1a said...

That's a good one, too, Cwj.

Anonymous said...

Especially when the players are " in the best shape of their lives" ;) ;)

realdealnats said...

Stras-r, Gio-l, Zimm-r, Jackson-r, Lannan-l

Wang DL to postpone the ultimate decision between him and Lannan

Store Gor in Cuse if possible til you can trade the salary

Det becomes big lefty in BP, Mattheus goes north

later than sooner--maybe Sept--maybe next year Rendon at 2B or SS, later than sooner--Upton CF--maybe July, better be by January2013

sjm308 said...

Realdeal - if we could get Gorzo through waivers, I would agree but someone will snatch him up - I loved Mattheus last year and think he will be just fine. Davey likes him as well which is important. I realize Gorzo has just pitched once and there is plenty of time to sort things out but what a great problem to have!! I have Lannen starting in Syr. which will be tough for him but Wang, if he is pitching like last year will absolutely be the best #5 in baseball!! No matter who our #5 is, I am predicting 12 or more wins from that spot!

Go Nats!

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

If any one of seven or eight guys gets hurt, or is seriously ineffective, over the next couple of weeks, the decision on Lannan/Wang/Detwiler is made. Nothing to sweat, yet, here.

realdealnats said...

sjm308

Everything you say makes sense. More sense than me. Lannan to Cuse is the predictable move. Especially given what do you do with Wang. And if Wang is healthy then he is a great asset. I was only speaking from intuition that whatever happens, the decision will be to keep two lefties in the rotation. Don't know why I feel that. Just do. And you're absolutely right about Gorzo, he won't make it through waivers. And for all we know he will be back on track next couple outings and this will prove moot. But if he is not, and someone claims him, then at least we lose his salary. Not that I mind spending the Lerners' money. And I agree, lots of good win/win decisions here.

Davey and many of us mention Rendon at 2B. Can he play SS? It would keep him on the left side of the infield. And Espi could stay at 2B. Espi at SS is fine with me, my question is which is the smarter move for Rendon? I think Desi's months are numbered. If not days. I too like the idea of Mattheus in the Bigs.

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