Lefty Gonzalez returns to Nats on minor-league deal

Lefty Gonzalez returns to Nats on minor-league deal
March 4, 2014, 9:30 am
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Michael Gonzalez, a key member of the Nationals' division-winning bullpen in 2012, is returning to the organization.

The Nationals have signed Gonzalez to a minor-league contract with an invitation to big-league camp, offering him an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster as the club's second left-handed reliever.

Gonzalez, 35, joined the Nats in May 2012 on a similar minor-league deal and joined the major-league bullpen one month later. He became a stalwart for the NL East champs, posting a 3.03 ERA in 47 appearances.

The Nationals had some interest in re-signing Gonzalez last winter, but he signed with the Brewers for $2.25 million. He wound up appearing in 75 games but saw his ERA balloon to 4.68 and his WHIP to a career-worst 1.660.

Once he reports to Viera, Gonzalez will join a wide-open competition for the one or two spots up for grabs in the Nationals' bullpen. The club plans to have newly acquired Jerry Blevins serve as their top left-handed reliever, but manager Matt Williams has said he'd prefer a second lefty if possible.

The other candidates in camp include Xavier Cedeno, who pitched well in a brief stint with the Nationals last season, and Ross Detwiler, who could wind up in the bullpen if he doesn't win the competition for the No. 5 spot in the Opening Day rotation.