WASHINGTON -- Minutes after winning his 20th game of the season on Saturday, Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez gave catcher Kurt Suzuki credit for his success on the mound.
Their relationship dates back to Gonzalez's rookie year with the Athletics in 2008, and they have clicked as battterymates ever since. Suzuki said Gonzalez was a guy who was always having fun and keeping the clubhouse loose. But Suzuki wanted to help Gonzalez on the mental part of his game.
"I wanted to make sure that he stayed on the right path, because when you look at him, he is so talented," Suzuki said. "You knew something special was in there. If he kept the course and worked hard -- I kept on top of him and made sure he stayed focus. I knew there was something special inside."
According to Suzuki, Gonzalez's work ethic was phenomenal in Oakland and is spectacular in Washington. All Gonzalez needed to do was learn how to pitch, and he did -- big time. He has won 50 games with a 3.64 ERA in his five years in the big leagues, and has a chance to win the National League Cy Young Award this year.
"You look at his work ethic and you say, 'OK, he is going to get better,' and he did," Suzuki said. "He had ups and downs coming up. He was 22 when he came up to the big leagues. You can't expect a guy to act like a veteran out there. Now you see him, he has matured. You see how he acts from his first start in the big leagues to now -- it's night and day."