Gio enjoying Spring Training close to home

Lefty, who lives an hour from new facility, has sights set on ASG in nearby Miami

Gio enjoying Spring Training close to home

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez didn't need a map to find the team's new Spring Training facility, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The center of trade rumors in the offseason, the only change in Gonzalez's immediate plans is the move with his Nationals teammates to a brand new Spring Training facility that is much closer to his home.

Born in the Miami suburb of Hialeah, Gonzalez honed his skills at Hialeah High School, where he helped his team to two state championships. He still has close ties to the area, working with kids at the school in the offseason.

"Here in West Palm Beach, I'm only an hour away from home," Gonzalez said. "So, it's just perfect. The whole city of Hialeah will be over here pretty soon."

The two-time All-Star is hoping to return to form this season. But Gonzalez has trended the other way since his last All-Star appearance in 2012, his first year with the Nats. It was also the best season of a nine-year career.

A 21-game winner in 2012 (21-8, 2.89 ERA), Gonzalez has not won more than 11 games since then, and his 4.57 ERA in '16 was his highest since a 5.75 posting with Oakland in '09.

But Gonzalez has already put last year behind him.

"It's last season; I'm not going to dwell on the past," he said. "We can go back and reflect on 2016 -- it would be a miserable time for all of us. There's a lot of stuff that we want to leave in the past."

Rather, Gonzalez is hoping to have the kind of year that allows him to participate in this year's Midsummer Classic, which will be played at Marlins Park in nearby Miami

That would present a whole different concern, one Gonzalez would welcome. With each player receiving a limited amount of tickets, he certainly wouldn't have enough of them to go around.

"I don't want to think that far ahead, but I'd like to have that as a good possibility," he said, having experienced similar fanfare before with the World Baseball Classic in Miami. "I was fortunate enough to just drive from Viera to Miami. It was nice to have all my family and friends there."

For now, though, Gonzalez is simply enjoying the benefits of Spring Training so close to his backyard.

"It's nice for the next month or so, and then I go back to the actual home and get ready to go to work."

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.