In addition to announcing sweeping suspensions on Monday afternoon, Major League Baseball also cleared Gio Gonzalez of any connection to performance-enhancing drugs and his alleged link to Biogenesis, the South Florida clinic that allegedly provided the banned substances to baseball players.
The Nationals, who had long been confident that Gonzalez would not be suspended, reacted with expected but not unsurprising relief.
“We felt confident about it the whole time,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “But it exonerates him and makes him feel better about it. Glad it’s over.”
Rizzo said he and Gonzalez talked about the matter in January when the pitcher’s name was first linked to now-defunct anti-aging clinic in a Miami New Times report. Manager Davey Johnson said he also spoke with Gonzalez in spring training and that was enough to put his mind at ease.
“We had a nice talk about it,” Johnson said. “He wasn’t concerned about it. I was, like anybody else, upset he was even linked to it. It is a relief that everybody knows it wasn’t a problem. It’s just another distraction you don’t have to deal with.”
Both Rizzo and Johnson believe Gonzalez has handled the investigation and cloud over him about it well. Gonzalez has posted a 7-4 record and 3.57 ERA over 133 2/3 innings. Rizzo did, however, acknowledge that the Biogenesis probe weighed some on Gonzalez.
“It’s a testament to his mental makeup and the way he prepares for games,” Rizzo said. “I thought he’s thrown extremely well considering.”
Added Johnson: “The only thing I disagree with MLB on, I think they could have cleared those guys earlier.”
Gonzalez’s teammates also voiced their support for him. First baseman Adam LaRoche, who acknowledged that he was “so over” talking about Biogenesis and suspensions, said that he believed Gonzalez from the beginning.
“Enough of us talked to him early on and he was very clear on that,” LaRoche said. “It’s peace of mind for him and any skeptics out there to have it confirmed. I’m sure it’s a weight off his shoulders.”
Added reliever Tyler Clippard: “I think it’s unfortunate that he was on the list to begin with. He’s obviously doing the right things. Gio’s a good guy and obviously wasn’t cheating. So for him to be on the list in the first place was kind of unfortunate, but I guess it’s obviously good for him to kind of get a clean slate. Really never should have been mentioned anyway.”