Gio happy to check off first big league hit

Gio happy to check off first big league hit

WASHINGTON -- Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez collected his first Major League hit in a 3-2 victory over the Reds on Thursday afternoon.

The hit occurred in the fifth inning when, with one out, Gonzalez swung at a Mat Latos pitch and singled to left. He could be seen smiling after reaching first base, while getting a loud ovation from the sellout crowd of 40,907.

"Big smile, big smile," Gonzalez said. "If you are not smiling, you have no blood. Latos is a great pitcher. I was trying to make contact. I was fortunate enough to put wood on it, and I got something going."

The hit helped ignite a Washington rally, with Adam LaRoche later plating two runs with a single to help the Nationals build an early lead.

This past offseason, Gonzalez spent a lot of time working in the batting cage with his father, Max, who told his son to put the ball in play; don't try to be like a power hitter. It looks like the tutelage from his dad has paid off.

"I'm trying to show up and put the ball in play," Gonzalez said. "I've been fortunate enough to get some ABs, instead of going out and bunting the ball. Again, it's one of those things, I just put the ball in play as much as possible. I had one of the players say, 'The more you put it into play, the [better the] chances it gets [to be a hit].

"I'm not going to say I'm a great hitter. I'm not going to put it out there like that. My job is to put it in play. If it came to bunting, I'll be a better bunter than a hitter. I'm grateful to get the first one out of the way."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.