A’s looking for repeat performance from Gonzalez
Gio Gonzalez works the room in the Oakland Athletics clubhouse
as well as he works the plate.
Before the team takes the field, he stops at just about every
dressing cubicle, telling a joke, imparting wisdom, swinging a
fungo. He takes the pulse and increases it if he senses the
”I’m not necessarily trying to be a leader, but you’ve got to
know your teammates. You’ve got to break the ice,” he said. ”A
lot of these guys played here before. Some didn’t. They’re fresh
faces. You want to make them feel loose, not feel so smothered.
After all, you’re with these guys for eight, nine months.”
The left-hander developed into one of the most reliable starters
on the team last season, posting a 15-9 record with a 3.23 ERA. He
did not miss a start – 33 games.
He and the team are looking for a repeat performance, or an even
better one, and he has the confidence that he can do it. The
reason, he said, is that he has matured into a better overall
pitcher, physically and mentally.
”I’m learning to make adjustments, not spiral out of control
mentally if something goes wrong,” he said. ”I’m learning to let
my defense work for me. Strikeouts are good if you can get them,
but they are not the only reason for success.”
He recalls conversations with former Oakland pitcher Justin
Duchscherer, now with Baltimore.
”He said, ‘Would you rather have 15 strikeouts in five innings
or have eight strong innings with only two strikeouts,”’ said
Gonzalez, who had 171 last season.
”It’s easy to say ”strikeouts,’ but then you start to think
the other way. It took awhile for me to understand that, but a lot
of it makes sense.”
The learning process continues by analyzing opposing hitters.
Many do that by watching video, but Gonzalez said he seems to get
more out of seeing the hitters in person.
Growing along with some of the other starters in what is one of
the American League’s best young rotations involves talking with
”We build that friendship and we are there for each other,” he
said. ”We talk about certain hitters. We have a friendly
competition. They are fun to watch and be around.”
It is a rotation that, according to Oakland manager Bob Geren,
”not too many managers wouldn’t trade for. There’s not just
quality, but youth.”
NOTES: Geren will use several players at shortstop as he eases
starter Cliff Pennington (left shoulder) back into action, probably
by the second week of spring games. Backup Adam Rosales (right
foot) might not be ready until May 1. … Kurt Suzuki will start
most games at catcher, and Josh Donaldson is pushing Landon Powell
for more time as the backup. … New DH Hideki Matsui was due to
arrive from Japan late Friday, will film a commercial for a
Japanese company on Saturday and join the club for the first day of
full workouts on Monday.