PITTSBURGH -- Taking a flyer on a veteran reliever who could help them out down the road, the Nationals have signed left-hander Mike Gonzalez to a minor-league contract.
Gonzalez, 33, owns a 2.91 ERA in nine career seasons with the Pirates, Braves, Orioles and Rangers, though he's battled injuries and poor performances the last two seasons. He had knee surgery over the winter and remained unsigned when the season began.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said there had been some mild interest in Gonzalez that perked up after veteran right-hander Brad Lidge landed on the disabled list with a sports hernia.
"I scouted him for years with the Pirates and the Braves," Rizzo said. "I just liked the way he gets after it. He's got good clubhouse makeup, and he'll fit into the clubhouse very well."
Gonzalez will report to the Nationals' extended spring training complex in Viera, Fla., and work with pitching coordinator Spin Williams. He'll probably join the roster at Class AAA Syracuse once he's ready to appear in games.
"I couldn't envision him coming right to the big leagues," Rizzo said. "He'd have to get some innings under his belt and get stretched out and get his arm strength to major-league standards before he gets here."