4/2/2013 5:51 P.M. ET
Gio keeps focus on game between the lines
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- One thing can be said about Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez: He doesn't let distractions get the best of him.
During Spring Training, a report from the Miami New Times linked Gonzalez and other Major League players to an anti-aging clinic called Biogenesis, which reportedly supplied PEDs. However, Gonzalez seemingly was able to leave that distraction off the field.
In five exhibition games, Gonzalez allowed three runs in 18 innings. But the highlight of Gonzalez's spring came on March 12, when he pitched five shutout inning for Team USA in a 7-1 victory over the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park in Miami, his home city. While in the Classic, he received a pep talk from pitching coach Greg Maddux, who told him to stay focused on the game at hand. That was not the case during last year's National League Division Series against the Cardinals.
"He said simplify everything. Instead of looking all around, focus on one little thing, like a routine ground ball," Gonzalez remembered. "Clear your mind, don't think about anything. It's just you and the catcher."
Asked how he didn't let the distraction off the field affect him on the field, Gonzalez said, "I went about my business. It was exactly what it was. I just focused on what I know to focus on, and that's baseball. I have fun doing it, I have team support. Not only that, I got to pitch in front of my home crowd. It just spruced more energy and I stayed focused. That meant a lot to me, to represent Team USA, and I didn't want to let them down."
Major League Baseball's investigation into Biogenesis and the players allegedly involved is still ongoing, but Gonzalez said he "doesn't know" if the league is still investigating him.
"At this point, I'm over it," Gonzalez said. "Turn the page, move forward, ready for baseball."
Gonzalez will be facing the Marlins on Wednesday night at Nationals Park in front of his parents, brother and cousin. His outing comes two days after Stephen Strasburg pitched seven shutout inning in a 2-0 victory over Miami.
"I'm going to try my best to give my team some strong innings and try to hold the Fish down," Gonzalez said. "We are going to go out there and have some fun. Opening Day is going to set the tone for us. We are going to have some fun after that."
Gonzalez is coming off his best season in the Major Leagues, having gone 21-8 with a 2.89 ERA and 207 strikeouts and earned a third-place finish in the National League Cy Young Award vote.
"I'm ready to move on and focus on baseball," Gonzalez said. "Nothing has changed since I've been playing. It's the same routine. I've been going out there and attacking the strike zone. That's my style of pitching. I want to play against your best and I try to do my best. That's the way I am. I'm ready to play baseball. I'm ready to focus on 2013 and move forward."
For a guy who was a Cy Young Award candidate last year, Gonzalez wants to put up better numbers in 2013 and win the World Series.
"I want to win more games. I want to do whatever I can more, and more better," Gonzalez said. "When you have a rotation like ours and an offense and defense like ours, why not go above and beyond having those expectations. It's only on yourself that you want to exceed and try to make it better. If you want to prove something, prove it to yourself."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.