Parents play a significant role in Gio Gonzalez’s career

continued from page 2

And, sometimes, that applied to Max and Yoly and the rest of Gonzalez’s familial entourage, too. Their pride often knows no bounds. They introduce Gio to everyone. From the passengers next to them on planes to the man working the car wash. They want everyone to know their son, and they don’t want to miss a minute. Sometimes it can cause friction, but never with ill will.

“Give it five minutes,” Braden said. “If Gio hasn’t told you how good he is, just wait for his mom and dad to do it.”

In the last calendar year, Gonzalez went from an All-Star to trade bait to the owner of a long-term extension. And while all of it was great, the last part came at a price. It separated him from Braden. Gonzalez calls himself Braden’s little brother. “I miss him all the time,” Braden said.

“But it was nothing that I didn’t know was in his future the minute that him and I played catch the first time together, just understanding what that left arm of his has in it,” he added. “He’s worked hard to get here. At the same time, I really hope he understands that it’s not over.”

Making a new home

If all goes according to plan, Gonzalez will be involved in some extremely meaningful games during his stay in Washington as an integral part of what already is the best rotation the Nationals have ever had.

When general manager Mike Rizzo set out to find a top-of-the-rotation left-hander this offseason and zeroed in on free agent Mark Buehrle, it seemed devastating when Buehrle chose to sign with the Marlins. Instead, it seems Rizzo hit the jackpot with Gonzalez, who is younger, cheaper and, many feel, more talented.

But signing the contract wasn’t just about the money and the family and watching his plan come to fruition. During Gonzalez’s trip to D.C. in January for his introductory news conference, he and his entourage went on a whirlwind tour of the nation’s capital. And he thought about the city’s history and people such as Martin Luther King Jr.

“You’ve got people that actually preached here, man,” Gonzalez said. “The good word. I like that.”

He’ll take the mound for the first time this season Saturday, ‘Washington’ stitched across his chest. Traded for the fourth time and finally as the centerpiece, he’s a National now. All of the Gonzalezes are. And however long he has in that uniform, he plans to make sure they know they didn’t make a mistake on him. He plans to build a legacy, as a pitcher and a person.

“I want to let the Nationals know: You didn’t get lowballed on your deal,” he said. “I’m going to be exactly what you wanted.”

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