EXCLUSIVE: Gio Gonzalez talks about ties to PED clinic
VIERA, Fla. -- Reiterating that he's never taken performance enhancing drugs, Gio Gonzalez reported to Nationals spring training this morning and said he's already spoken to MLB investigators looking into the left-hander's connection with a Miami clinic suspected of dealing PEDs.
"I've cooperated," he said. "I've done everything they wanted me to do."
Gonzalez spoke to print reporters for 15 minutes inside the dugout at Space Coast Stadium, the first five on his connection to the Biogenesis clinic, and appeared as loose and carefree as he was throughout his 21-win season with the Nationals.
The 27-year-old pitcher said he's "very confident" he'll be cleared by MLB of any wrongdoing and expanded on his initial Jan. 29 statement denying any relationship with Biogenesis or its chief, Anthony Bosch. The Miami New Times published pages from Bosch's notebook that included Gonzalez's name listed next to several substances. None appear to be obvious illegal performance enhancers, though one was referred to as "pink cream," a substance Gonzalez said today he has never heard of.
Asked how he believes his name wound up in Bosch's records if the two had never before met, Gonzalez suggested the link was suspected because his father, Max Gonzalez, was a patient of Bosch's weight-loss clinic.
"My father already admitted that 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 that my father is the most proud father in baseball. Says hi, tells everybody 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 on the notebook or anything."
Gonzalez didn't specify when he met with MLB officials but said he fully cooperated and now is waiting for that investigation (which also features notable names like Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and Melky Cabrera) to be completed. He wasn't given a timetable for the investigation to be completed.
"There's nothing more I can do," he said. "I gave you everything you want."
Gonzalez said he was surprised and honored to receive a voicemail from Team USA manager Joe Torre last week, inviting him to pitch in next month's World Baseball Classic. Torre also serves as MLB's vice president of baseball operations, a connection the left-hander took as a positive sign.
"Absolutely. If you get a call from Joe Torre, you know something's going good and you feel confident that he believes in you and he wants you to represent them," he said. "Everyone has their doubts. Everyone has their beliefs. But at the end of the day, I'm still playing. I'm still staying positive."
Gonzalez said he was "stunned" and "shocked" upon first learning of his name appearing in the Miami New Times report after it was published and word began to spread throughout the public. Since then, he's been overwhelmed by the support he's received from teammates and fans, many who greeted him at Space Coast Stadium this morning when he arrived.
Gonzalez proceed to play catch in the outfield for several minutes before retreating to the clubhouse, where more well-wishers remained. He said he's determined not to let this story become a distraction for himself or for a Nationals team with World Series aspirations.
"I'm going to do my best to keep it away from the locker room and cooperate with you guys and make sure you guys get what you want," he said. "But 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. It's about the organization. It's about the team together. This should definitely not be a distraction for the guys."