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Gio Gonzalez has been linked to an alleged supplier of PEDs in Miami.
This story isn't about to disappear. And because of it, there's a reasonable possibility this saga is going to become a distraction at a Nationals camp that is set to open in a mere eight days.
The initial takeaway from Tuesday's published investigation by the New Times is that something of real significance was going on at Biogenesis, the Coral Gables, Fla., anti-aging clinic now linked to several prominent ballplayers, headlined by Alex Rodriguez.
The evidence provided against A-Rod is far more damning than the evidence provided against Gonzalez, but that doesn't mean the NL Cy Young finalist is going to escape with a free pass. If nothing else, Gonzalez is going to have to answer questions, a lot of them, both to MLB investigators and to media members who are going to grill him about his purported relationship with Biogenesis and its chief, Anthony Bosch.
To this point, Gonzalez has said very little about the subject in public, offering only a brief statement via his Twitter account in which he insisted that "I've never used performance enhancing drugs of any kind and I never will" and that "I've never met or spoken with Tony Bosch or used any substance provided by him. Anything said to the contrary is a lie."
That's not going to be enough, though. Gonzalez is going to have to explain why his name is listed among Bosch's handwritten notes alongside the names of several substances (some of which are legal, some of which could be illegal or banned by MLB). He's going to have to explain his relationship with suspended University of Miami strength coach Jimmy Goins (who allegedly purchased HGH and steroids from Bosch). And he's going to have to explain how his father, Max, figures into this entire equation. (Max Gonzalez has admitted consulting with Bosch on a weight-loss program.)
Few will be surprised if Gonzalez declines to discuss any of this, citing the ongoing investigation. And certainly that may be his best course of action from a legal standpoint.
But the longer he deflects the issue -- legitimately or illegitimately -- the more Gonzalez risks allowing this story to continue to follow him around camp. Which also means this story follows the rest of his teammates around camp.
In previous years, this might not have been that big a deal. The Nationals were mostly an afterthought around the baseball world, a perennial loser still trying to build itself into a long-term success story.
But the 2013 Nationals are going to be among the most-watched teams in the sport this spring. There's going to be national attention on camp almost every day, certainly during the first portion of camp as everyone reports to Viera for the first time.
And that's going to keep the Gonzalez saga in the spotlight for the foreseeable future. Which is going to take attention away from the actual task at hand: Preparing for a baseball season in which winning the World Series is the publicly stated objective.
Look, Gonzalez has every right not to discuss the topic. And to date, he's not only not been proven to have done anything wrong, he hasn't even been formally accused of doing anything wrong.
But there's a sharp difference between what makes sense from a legal standpoint and what makes sense from a public relations standpoint. And in cases like this, the athletes who sacrifice some of their legal rights in exchange for taking control of the PR aspect of the story inevitably emerge in a more positive light.
Gonzalez can avoid this for another week. But once he sets foot inside the clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium, he's going to face these questions. And whether he's done anything wrong or is completely clean, he can only help his cause by setting the record straight.