VIERA, Fla. -- Though Gio Gonzalez will have to leave Nationals camp during the World Baseball Classic, he won't miss as much time as other players participating in next month's international tournament.
Gonzalez will skip the first round of the WBC, giving him an opportunity to make an extra Grapefruit League start with the Nationals before finally joining Team USA in time to make a second-round start March 12 in Miami, manager Davey Johnson said.
"He's starting the second round in Miami," Johnson said. "I got that from [USA pitching coach] Greg Maddux. There's no sense in him going to join the club when everybody else does, so he could stay here and get his work in and then drive down to Miami after he throws his last game here."
Team USA plays three games in the first round of the WBC, scheduled for March 8-10 in Phoenix. With Gonzalez slated to start the fourth game (March 12 in Miami, assuming the Americans advance from pool play), he can stay in Nationals camp several extra days and thus make another spring training start before heading out.
Johnson said Gonzalez will make three Grapefruit League starts: Feb. 25 against the Mets, March 2 against the Cardinals and March 7 against the Astros. That will line him on to pitch on normal rest for Team USA in the second-round opener against either the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico or Spain.
Gonzalez was pleased with his bullpen session this morning, one that included a wicked two-seam fastball that catcher Wilson Ramos couldn't cleanly grab.
"I feel like I'm ready to go now," the left-hander said. "It's a good feeling. I got my arm in shape and I'm feeling great now. I'm looking forward to live BP [on Tuesday]."
Though Gonzalez's departure for the WBC will be delayed, the other Nationals player participating in the event (Roger Bernadina) won't be nearly as fortunate. Bernadina's native Netherlands squad opens pool play March 2 in Tokyo, and considering the extra travel time and pre-tournament workout schedule, the outfielder will have to leave the Nationals on Feb. 25.
With the Grapefruit League slate commencing Feb. 23, Bernadina won't see much action before he must leave camp.
"I'll get him in all three games and get him enough at-bats to where he'll be up to speed," Johnson said. "As much as I can get him up to speed."