Though Gio Gonzalez spent much of his camp-opening session with reporters yesterday answering questions about his possible connection to the Biogenesis clinic under investigation by MLB, the Nationals left-hander also spent a good amount of time on a much happier subject: His addition to Team USA's roster for next month's World Baseball Classic.
Gonzalez described the invitation as "an honor," one he couldn't pass up.
"You get to play for your country," he said. "It only happens every four years. To even be selected or mentioned, it has to be at the top of your [list of accomplishments]. To represent the United States, that says it by itself."
Gonzalez learned of his addition to the roster via a voicemail last week from manager Joe Torre (who also serves as MLB's vice president of baseball operations), a thrill in its own right.
"It was an honor getting his voicemail and listening to him talk," the left-hander said. "It's one of those privileges to play for such a manager ... in my opinion, a Hall-of-Fame manager and a player, too. When you get that invitation, it just puts a smile on your face. It makes you know you're still welcome by a lot of baseball players."
Gonzalez is just one of four starting pitchers currently on the American roster, along with the Blue Jays' R.A. Dickey, the Giants' Ryan Vogelsong and the Rangers' Derek Holland. Plenty of big names declined invitations to participate, citing the potential for injury or a desire to keep focus on their big-league teams, but Gonzalez didn't have to think twice about signing up.
"I'm speaking on my own. Some people are different," he said. "I look at it as, I want to represent them. At the end of the day, it's a good thing for the fact I get to represent my country, my family and where I'm from. The best thing to do is go out there and make sure you perform at the top of your [game]."
Gio on WBC invite: "It's an honor"
Nats Insider | Feb 13