Nats' Gonzalez to Join Team USA For World Baseball Classic

USA will play preliminary games March 8-10

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez will pitch for Team USA in the forthcoming World Baseball Classic. USA Baseball announced Gonzalez' commitment on its Twitter page Saturday afternoon.

Gonzalez, a Florida native acquired by the Nationals via a trade with the Oakland Athletics in December 2011, had one of the best seasons of his career for Washington in 2012. The left-hander started 32 games and won 21 of them, a career-high. Gonzalez also recorded a career-low ERA of 2.89 in 199.1 innings and struck out a career-best 207 batters. Filling the ace role on Washington's staff after Stephen Strasburg was shut down, Gonzalez finished third in the National League Cy Young voting behind R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets (who will also be in Team USA's rotation) and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Gonzalez' offseason had been quiet until recent weeks, when he was among a group of baseball players linked to a Florida doctor who allegedly supplied players with performance-enhancing drugs. Gonzalez has denied using any performance-enhancing drugs or having contact with the doctor, Anthony Bosch.

The World Baseball Classic begins March 2 and will involve 16 teams from 4 continents. The United States will compete in Pool D against Mexico, Italy, and Canada at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona March 8, 9, and 10.

Japan is the two-time defending champion, having won the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2006 and defended their title in 2009. The final will be played March 19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

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