WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez called it “a lie” right from the very start, from the moment a newspaper report linked him to a clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.
A little more than six months later, Gonzalez was formally cleared by Major League Baseball.
Gonzalez, a left-hander who finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting last year, said Monday he has “no lingering sense of animosity” over being connected to MLB’s drug investigation. New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was banned through 2014, while 12 players were suspended 50 games apiece Monday because of their relationship to Biogenesis of America.
MLB also announced that its inquiry “found no violations” by two players linked to Biogenesis in media reports: Gonzalez and Danny Valencia, a Baltimore Orioles third baseman recalled from the minors on Sunday.
“I’ve never been really concerned about it,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said about Gonzalez’s involvement. “I had a conversation with him in spring when it all came up. We had a nice talk about it. He wasn’t concerned about it. I was, like anybody else, upset he was even linked to it. It is a relief that everybody knows it wasn’t a problem. It’s just another distraction you don’t have to deal with.”
Gonzalez never sounded bothered by the whole thing, and he has pitched rather well this season for a Nationals club that entered Monday three games below .500 after leading the majors in wins last year.
“I think it was on his mind so I think it had some effect on him,” general manager Mike Rizzo said before the Nationals hosted the Atlanta Braves on Monday night. “I think he handled it well. It’s a testament to his mental makeup and the way he prepares for games. I thought he’s thrown extremely well, considering.”
Gonzalez is 7-4 with a 3.57 ERA and a team-leading 139 strikeouts in 133 2-3 innings. In 2012, his first season with Washington, Gonzalez went 21-8.
Overall, in six years in the majors with the Oakland Athletics and Nationals, the 27-year-old Gonzalez is 66-44 with a 3.64 ERA.
Baseball’s investigation began last year and escalated in January, when the Miami New Times published documents connecting several players to Biogenesis, whose founder, Anthony Bosch, eventually cooperated with MLB.
When that newspaper’s report came out in January, Gonzalez posted on his Twitter feed: “I’ve never used performance enhancing drugs of any kind and I never will, I’ve never met or spoken with tony Bosch or used any substance provided by him. anything said to the contrary is a lie.”
He later said that his father, Max, was a patient of the clinic and went there to get help losing weight.
In February, Gonzalez said he had taken blood and urine tests two days after the initial newspaper report and that they came back negative.
“I am very pleased that Major League Baseball has cleared my name. With this process now complete, I have no lingering sense of animosity, as I quickly realized that the objective of this investigation was to clean up our game,” Gonzalez said in a statement issued Monday by the Nationals. “This is an ideal that I share with both Major League Baseball and the (players’ union). I would also like to acknowledge the unwavering support of my teammates, the Lerner Family (that owns the Nationals), Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson, our coaching staff and Nationals fans everywhere.”
The Orioles did not have a game Monday. A day before, the 28-year-old Valencia homered for Baltimore after rejoining the club from Triple-A Norfolk.
He has spent time in the majors with the Minnesota Twins (2010-12), Boston Red Sox (2012) and Orioles (2013), compiling a .254 batting average with 30 homers and 143 RBIs.
At spring training, Valencia told reporters he didn’t have any connection to Biogenesis or its founder, Bosch.
“I’ve never had any contact with those people,” Valencia said at the time. “I’ve never met Tony Bosch — never seen him, never been to that clinic, never heard of that clinic until the New Times story first broke. That being said, I’ve never ever taken a PED in my life, never failed a drug test in my life and I never will.”