Gio Gonzalez has spent much of his offseason down in South Florida where he generally trains over the winter. He’s got family, friends, sunshine and workout facilities at the University of Miami, all he needs to get prepared for the new year.
This time around, however, he’s had some extra help. Four-time World Series champion and ex-Yankees catcher Jorge Posada has been catching Gonzalez’ bullpen sessions every Tuesday, and along the way imparting valuable knowledge from his 17-year MLB career.
The two came in contact with each other while working out at the U. of Miami, Gonzalez was lifting weights when the former backstop approached him.
“I remembered he asked me ‘when are you throwing a bullpen?’ I said ‘well I don’t have a guy to catch me, but I’ll find one,’” Gonzalez said.
“I thought he was going to say ‘I want to go see it.’ He said he wanted to catch me and I took a step back like ‘are you serious? Are you just messing with me?’”
Gonzalez met Posada at the field that next Tuesday and was surprised at how Posada appeared. He brought no catching mask, no gear, just a glove.
The lack of protection forced Gio to be a little careful with his pitches, not to throw too low and spike his battery mate. It also allowed bystanders to see who was working with him.
“When you have a football team at the University of Miami literally stop and point ‘that’s Jorge Posada,’ you know you are somebody,” Gonzalez said.
That day Gonzalez posted a photo to Instagram of he and Posada working out. The picture got picked up by numerous blogs, and apparently caused a stir among Yankees faithful.
“‘Ah man, now everyone thinks I’m coming back,’” Gio recalls Posada telling him.
Gonzalez and Posada generally work out with a full bullpen session before going their separate ways, but each time they reconvene afterwards to discuss Gio’s progress. Gonzalez has been receptive to Posada’s advice, as you can imagine.
“When he came up to me and started talking about pitching and pitching mechanics and stuff, you just sit there and listen. How many times is a four-title guy coming up to you and giving you information you can use?”
Posada has worked with some great pitchers over the years including Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite and Mike Mussina. All three were masterful at deceiving hitters, something Posada has worked with Gio on.
“Patience. You gotta learn how to hit your spots and mix it up. Change signs,” Gio said. “There’s things that he teaches you that make you sit back and you start analyzing. It’s a lot of work as a pitcher and he’s had nothing but Hall of Famers go through his hands.”
Gonzalez called training with Posada a “childhood dream” and an “inspiration.” With few bullpen sessions between them left before pitchers and catchers report, Gio is soaking up as much as he can. If he had it his way, he’d bring Posada with him to spring training and then to Washington.
“I told him ‘if you don’t wanna play, you could come over here and work for the Nats.’ He goes ‘I don’t think the Yankees would like that too much.’”