After he reported to Washington Nationals spring training this morning, ace left-hander Gio Gonzalez expressed confidence he will avoid a suspension from Major League Baseball as the league continues its investigation into his alleged involvement with Biogenesis, a clinic in his native South Florida reported to distribute performance-enhancing drugs.
“I feel very confident,” Gonzalez said in his first public comments, a group interview truncated by a team public relations official. “At the end of the day, I’ve never taken performance-enhancing drugs, and I never will. I’m actually pretty excited about this year.”
Gonzalez was his typical gregarious, grinning self as he met with reporters. He took roughly five minutes of questions pertaining to the Biogenesis case before the team official said he would not have any more to say on the topic. Gonzalez held court for another 10 minutes, joking and effusive with optimism about the Nationals’ chances in 2013.
Gonzalez said he has fully cooperated with MLB and its investigators. “I feel strong with their program and what they’re doing,” Gonzalez said. “At the end of the day, it’s waiting on them.”
On Jan. 29, the Miami New Times reported that Gonzalez’s name surfaced alongside several major league stars in notebooks kept by Anthony Bosch, the chief of the Biogenesis clinic.
“You’re stunned, you’re shocked,” Gonzalez said. “Your name was brought up out of nowhere. You’re like, you can’t do nothing about. You have to listen to what’s going on. You can’t jump the gun. You can’t jump to conclusions. At the end of the day, you have to listen in and wait patiently.”
Gonzalez had no certain explanation for why his name appeared. His father, Max Gonzalez, was also listed in the notebooks. He told the New Times that he went to the clinic for weight loss and that Gonzalez had no involvement. Gonzalez said the only reason for his name to appear in Bosch’s records would be his braggadocios dad.
“My father already admitted he was a patient there, a legitimate patient,” Gonzalez said. “And then after that, you know how my father is. All of South Florida, all of baseball knows my father is the most proud father in baseball. He says hi, he tells everyone about his son. That’s the best I can say. Other than that, I have no clue why my name was on that list or notebook or anything.”
Gonzalez, who is from Hialeah, Fla., was mentioned five times in Bosch’s notebooks, according to the New Times, including a specific 2012 annotation that referred to an order of “Zinc/MIC/…and Aminorip” for $1,000. In records later divulged, Gonzalez’s name appears next to a substance called, “pink cream.” Gonzalez said he had never used any of the products.
“No,” he said. “Not at all.”
This weekend, Gonzalez accepted an invitation to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. He received the invite in a voicemail from legendary manager Joe Torre, who works for the league office. Gonzalez took that as a positive sign.
“If you get a call from Joe Torre, you know something is going good,” Gonzalez said. “You feel confident that he believes in you, and he wants to represent you at the top of your peak. Everyone has their doubts. Everyone has their beliefs. At the end of the day, I’m still staying positive.”
In a show his relaxed demeanor, Gonzalez joked about playing for Team USA: “Now people will now I’m actually from here.”
Gonzalez flitted around the Nationals’ clubhouse jovial as ever. He handed out copies of Athletes Quarterly magazine with himself on the cover. Teammates strewed a table with black-and-white photos of Gonzalez posing in a suit. Gonzalez will make a concerted effort not to let the ongoing investigation change him or disrupt his team.
“I’m going to do my best to keep it away from the locker room and cooperate with [reporters],” Gonzalez said. “At the end of the day, I don’t want this to be a distraction to the team. I don’t want any of this to be about me. At the end of the day, it’s about the team, the organization. This should definitely not be a distraction for the guys.”