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Warren Spahn Award: Gio Gonzalez considers Spahn Award just as prestigious as Cy Young

Gonzalez in Oklahoma City to accept an award that goes to the best left-handed pitcher in big league baseball.
By Mike Baldwin Published: January 17, 2013

/articleid/3746827/1/pictures/1930197">Photo - Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals, winner of the 2012 Warren Spahn Award, speaks at a press conference at the Jim Thorpe Museum and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. The Warren Spahn Award honors the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals, winner of the 2012 Warren Spahn Award, speaks at a press conference at the Jim Thorpe Museum and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. The Warren Spahn Award honors the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

The Nationals' rotation figures to be one of the best in baseball with Strasburg, Gonzalez, hard throwing right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler and Dan Haren.

“We have Strasburg coming back healthy,” Gonzalez said. “We have some additions to the bullpen. We have a great center fielder (Denard Span) coming in. We're going to have even more speed and power in the lineup.”

Gonzalez, 27, has a fastball that reaches 94 mph and an outstanding curve, his out pitch. His one issue is control. Gonzalez's 91 walks last season were the most in the NL. In Oakland, he walked 264 in just under 500 innings.

In the Game 5 loss to St. Louis, Gonzalez walked four in five innings, which forced him to exit early after throwing 110 pitches.

“In the past (generations) you could go up to 200 pitches,” Gonzalez said. “You walk people to get to other (hitters). I'd rather pitch to the guy behind Barry Bonds. There are different ways of pitching. It's being a smart pitcher. That's what Warren Spahn was.”

Asked if he knew much about Warren Spahn, Gonzalez rattled off Spahn's history.

A 17-time All-Star. Cy Young winner who won 363 games. War veteran who won a purple heart.

“He was in an era when I was a twinkle in my Dad's eye,” Gonzalez said. “The era he was in, he opened the door to the knowledge I have now. He has so many great numbers.”

The Spahn Award was created in 1999. Randy Johnson and C.C. Sabathia have won it three times. Now Gonzalez's name is on the list.

A first-round pick in 2004, the 38th overall selection, Gonzalez blossomed last season after going 38-32 in four seasons with Oakland.

The Nationals gave him a vote of confidence before he threw a pitch at Nationals Park, signing the Florida native to a five-year $42 million extension.

“To win an award like this means everything,” Gonzalez said. “To bring this back to D.C. and let them know I represent all left-handed pitchers to a team that believed in me from the beginning this is all due to them.”


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