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Gio Gonzalez makes his Nationals debut tomorrow afternoon at Wrigley Field.
That anticipation will peak shortly after noon CDT tomorrow, when Gonzalez takes the mound for the Nationals for the first time, starting his new club's second game of the season against the Cubs.
Then, the left-hander hopes, he can get down to business.
"Obviously, you're going to get butterflies here and there, but hopefully after the first pitch, it just goes away," he said. "I was talking about that the other day with my dad. You're going to get those jitters, you're going to get those butterflies. But after the first pitch, I think you're going to settle in and just get going. Back to baseball."
The Nationals are counting on Gonzalez to be an anchor on a deep and talented pitching staff, and they gave up plenty to acquire his services: prospects Brad Peacock, Tommy Milone, Derek Norris and A.J. Cole all were sent to the Athletics in late December in exchange for the 26-old lefty.
Gonzalez, who then signed a five-year, $42 million extension with his new club, wasted no time making his presence known this spring. He instantly became a popular and boisterous figure in the clubhouse, and more importantly, he performed well on the mound during his exhibition slate.
Manager Davey Johnson thought highly enough of the former 16-game winner and American League All-Star to name him the Nationals' No. 2 starter, lining him up right behind Stephen Strasburg. The ace made quite a statement during yesterday's opener, holding the Cubs to one run over seven sterling innings, and Gonzalez saw that only as extra incentive to make good in his own season debut tomorrow.
"Davey knew what he was doing," said Gonzalez (who will also start the Nationals' home opener Thursday against the Reds). "He knew what was going to come: [Strasburg] was going to go out and give them a great performance. ... After how he performed today, he set the tone. He set the tone for all of us."