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Nats sign reliever Gonzalez to minor-league contract

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Nats sign reliever Gonzalez to minor-league contract

PITTSBURGH -- Taking a flyer on a veteran reliever who could help them out down the road, the Nationals have signed left-hander Mike Gonzalez to a minor-league contract.

Gonzalez, 33, owns a 2.91 ERA in nine career seasons with the Pirates, Braves, Orioles and Rangers, though he's battled injuries and poor performances the last two seasons. He had knee surgery over the winter and remained unsigned when the season began.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said there had been some mild interest in Gonzalez that perked up after veteran right-hander Brad Lidge landed on the disabled list with a sports hernia.

"I scouted him for years with the Pirates and the Braves," Rizzo said. "I just liked the way he gets after it. He's got good clubhouse makeup, and he'll fit into the clubhouse very well."

Gonzalez will report to the Nationals' extended spring training complex in Viera, Fla., and work with pitching coordinator Spin Williams. He'll probably join the roster at Class AAA Syracuse once he's ready to appear in games.

"I couldn't envision him coming right to the big leagues," Rizzo said. "He'd have to get some innings under his belt and get stretched out and get his arm strength to major-league standards before he gets here."

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Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

When it comes to sports, we sometimes forget that the athletes we look up to are just normal people.  Normal people who have a lot to prove to millions of people on a weekly basis.  Former Nationals outfielder Rick Ankiel has discussed one his human moments in an interview with 590 The Fan in St. Louis.

Ankiel admitted to drinking vodka during his plight as a pitcher. He referenced his first two starts of the 2001 season, in particular against the his opener Arizona Diamondbacks where he allowed his anxiety to giving in to alcohol to soothe him. In the previous postseason, he became the first pitcher since 1980 to throw five wild pitches in a single inning. 

It may have worked for a couple of games but Ankiel eventually realized it was only making matters worse.

Ankiel began playing in the MLB at the age of 19 and has had a fluctuating career through six teams.  All the while, he has keep a “never give up” mentality.

Why the sudden need to vent? The St. Louis baseball pitcher is getting up close and personal with his upcoming book, “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed my Life” which is co-written with sports writer, Tim Brown will be released on April 18.  

His two seasons with the Nationals, resulted in 127 hits and 52 RBIs as an outfielder. 

MORE NATS: Can't miss Nationals promotional schedule

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Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras