VIERA, Fla. — The Nationals are still in the process of figuring out how to line up Gio Gonzalez’s early spring schedule so that he will be able to transition seamlessly to Team USA for the World Baseball Classic, but it sounds like they might get a little more room to work with than originally thought.
Team USA is expected to gather in Arizona during the first weekend of March in order to prepare to begin Pool play by Friday, March 8. But Gonzalez may not wind up joining the team until they reach the second round of the tournament and journey east to Miami.
The second round of the WBC will be played in two locations: Tokyo and Miami. As long as Team USA is either the winner or the runner-up in Pool D, which also contains Italy, Mexico and Canada, they will advance to play in the second round at Marlins Park, where the first game will be held on March 12. That may be the earliest they use Gonzalez.
Delaying him until that point would not only save him a flight to Arizona, but also give him an opportunity to have at least three, and perhaps four or more, appearances with the Nationals in Grapefruit League games before he is asked to pitch in the tournament.
The championship round of the tournament will be played at AT&T Park in San Francisco.