Nationals Magazine preview: Gio Gonzalez; Line in the Water
The following is an excerpt from the April/May issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The April/May issue of Nationals Magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Nationals Park on gamedays.
by Amanda Comak
Gio Gonzalez, the Nationals’ affable left-hander, is at peace as he begins his third season in Washington, a demeanor he’s arrived at with time spent with a fishing pole in hand.
There is a spot just off the Pineda Causeway, before the bridge reconnects with U.S. Route 1 and just far enough into the Indian River, where it’s easy to feel like you’re away from the rest of the world for a while. The waves crash against the base of the bridge and the breeze tempers the late afternoon sun.
It is a spot that Gio Gonzalez found during his first Spring Training with the Washington Nationals, now three camps ago. He used to come to this small pull-off with teammates. Sometimes Michael Morse, other times Edwin Jackson or Yunesky Maya, whose knack for fishing Gonzalez still hasn’t forgotten. They’d park their cars mere feet from the water and spend a few hours letting their minds focus on the fish.
On one idyllic afternoon this February, Gonzalez came here with his father, Max. They pulled off the causeway and dropped a few lines into the water. Max lit a cigar. They gazed into the horizon and relaxed.
“Any problem you have, you come out and fish and it’s like it disappears,” Gio said.
He smiled easily as his father joked with him and told stories.
There was the time Max took Gio and his brothers to the Florida Keys for a few days when they were kids. They slept in a tent right on the shore and spent the days fishing and swimming. One afternoon, moments after they’d gotten out of the water from a swim, “the biggest manatee I ever saw swam by,” Max recalled, separating his arms to emphasize his point. “They flipped,” he added with a chuckle.
Not 10 minutes after he’d told the manatee story, Max, standing about 15 feet from his son, spotted a familiar creature and shouted excitedly to Gio. Three manatees swam by, playing with one another as they went.
“Wow,” Gio said as they passed, a smile crossing his face. “You can’t beat that with a stick.”
Just as he seemed on that afternoon, Gonzalez begins his third season in Washington with a sense of peace about him. He has put a tumultuous 2013 season — the first in his career in which he did not improve upon what he’d done the year before — behind him. The potential for greatness remains ahead.
Asked if he’s excited for the upcoming season, Gonzalez is firm.
“I am,” he said without hesitation. “We just look focused — even our young guys in camp. Everyone has a focus about them… It just feels right.”
To continue reading “Line in the Water” on Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Nationals Park on gamedays.