Gio Gonzalez has accepted an offer to pitch for Team USA in next month's World Baseball Classic, a somewhat surprising twist less than two weeks after the Nationals left-hander's name surfaced in connection with a Miami clinic under investigation for distributing performance enhancing drugs.
Gonzalez, whose addition was announced on USA Baseball's Twitter account, presumably takes the roster spot that opened up when Braves right-hander Kris Medlen withdrew in anticipation of the birth of his first child. He's currently one of only two left-handed starters scheduled to pitch for Team USA, along with the Rangers' Derek Holland.
Other projected members of the rotation are the Blue Jays' R.A. Dickey and the Giants' Ryan Vogelsong, though more pitchers (including Tigers ace Justin Verlander) could still be added before the final, 28-man roster must be submitted on Feb. 20.
Gonzalez was selected for the team by USA manager Joe Torre, who also serves as MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations and figures to be involved in the league's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic that allegedly supplied athletes with performance enhancing drugs.
Gonzalez's name appeared in notes of Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch alongside the names of several substances -- some of which are legal, some of which could be illegal or banned by MLB -- obtained and published by the Miami New Times on Jan. 29. The pitcher has denied ever taking any performance enhancing drugs and said he's never met or spoken with Bosch, though his father, Max, admitted counseling with Bosch on a weight-loss program.
Other prominent ballplayers reported to be linked to Bosch include Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and Melky Cabrera, which prompted MLB to open an investigation of Biogenesis that will likely include interviews with the linked players.
Gonzalez, for the moment, is one of only two Nationals players who have committed to playing in the WBC, with outfielder Roger Bernadina set to appear for his native Netherlands squad. Danny Espinosa was listed on Mexico's provisional roster announced last month, but it's unclear if the second baseman (who has a torn left rotator cuff) will be cleared to participate.
Team USA is scheduled to open first-round play March 8 in Phoenix, with players reporting five days earlier for pre-tournament workouts. The championship game is scheduled for March 19 in San Francisco.