Gio to stay with Nats, miss first round of Classic
Lefty likely to make three spring starts, then join Team USA if it advances
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, a late addition to the Team USA starting rotation for the World Baseball Classic, will not join the team until the second round of the tournament, should the United States advance.
Washington manager Davey Johnson expressed his desire for Gonzalez to have more work under his belt before he leaves to join Joe Torre's squad, which would start the second round in Miami on March 12. That way, Gonzalez can make three Spring Training starts with the Nationals -- Feb. 25, March 2 and March 7 -- and be lined up to pitch for Team USA.
"I think they want me to come out here and work with the guys through the end of the month, and if we advance to the second round, I'll be going down to Miami to pitch at home," said Gonzalez, a South Florida native.
The American squad -- part of Group D, which includes Italy, Mexico and Canada -- will open pool play at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz., on March 8 against Mexico. The U.S. will play Italy on March 9 and Canada on March 10. The top two teams in the pool advance.
"This way, I can keep everybody on a five-day [schedule]," Johnson said.