The Washington Times - March 6, 2012, 10:11AM

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will take the mound at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex Tuesday afternoon for his first official outing as a member of the Washington Nationals.

The centerpiece of a six-player trade that sent four of the Nationals’ best prospects to Oakland for the gregarious lefty, Gonzalez has wowed teammates in bullpen sessions and live batting practices with his jaw-dropping curveball. Catcher Wilson Ramos, who’ll catch him today, even said he’d never seen anything exactly like it. 


Gonzalez will have plenty more starts for the Nationals, who locked him up through at least the 2016 season with options for 2017 and 2018 after acquiring him, but there always has to be a first. His will come Tuesday against the division rival Atlanta Braves.

He’ll be followed to the mound by Yunesky Maya, Chad Durbin, Sean Burnett, Atahualpa Severino, Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Jeff Fulchino. 

Here is the starting lineup behind Gonzalez, which looks fairly regular aside from a few tweaks:

Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Michael Morse LF
Jayson Werth CF
Mark DeRosa 1B
Chad Tracy DH
Wilson Ramos C
Brett Carroll RF

Kris Medlen will get the start for the Braves.  

– A few other notes:

* Nathan Fenno reports from Viera that Adam LaRoche will not take batting practice on Tuesday but still appears all systems go for him to play in his first spring game on Wednesday.

LaRoche, who sprained his ankle running the bases last week and is still recovering from June labrum surgery in his left shoulder, will likely play fairly regularly once he starts. Nationals manager Davey Johnson is intent on getting LaRoche regular at-bats because of the lengthy layoff he’s had from organized games (he last played in May, 2011). 

* Many thanks to Nathan, by the way, for pinch hitting for me the past few days. He’s our do-everything man at The Washington Times sports department and he does it all well.