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Gio Gonzalez ponders possible trade

August 30, 2018

PHILADELPHIA Gio Gonzalez took off his blue and red hat and carried it in his left hand, then made the long stroll to the Nationals third-base dugout.

The veteran lefty pitcher had finally retired the side in the bottom of the fifth, but not before allowing a grand slam to Carlos Santana of the Phillies in an 8-6 victory by Philadelphia here on Wednesday night.

The box score will say that Gonzalez retired the last batter he faced Maikel Franco of the Phillies on a groundout to Wilmer Difo at second.

And there is a chance that could be the last hitter Gonzalez retired as a member of the Nationals, as his name has been mentioned as a possible veteran who could be traded by the midnight Friday deadline.

“I’m still here,” said an emotional Gonzalez, 32, talking quietly in the Washington clubhouse. “I’m still here wearing Nationals’ uniform. Till then ... I’m still wearing Nationals’ gear.”

To be eligible for a postseason roster a player must be with a team by Friday. Washington, if it feels its playoff chances are remote, could trade Gonzalez to a contending team for perhaps a minor league prospect.

Gonzalez was acquired from the Oakland A’s in a trade prior to the 2012 season and he won 21 games that first year with the Nationals.

The native of Miami has appeared in postseason play four times with the Nationals and was named to the all-star game once in the National League.

He has won at least 10 games in each of the previous eight seasons and is one of the most durable lefty starters in the majors. Gonzalez won 15 games for the Nationals last year and had an ERA of 2.96.

If Wednesday was his last outing with the Nationals it was a downer to go out on.

He gave up a two-out grand slam to Santana in the fifth that gave the Phillies a lead of 6-5 after he struck out two batters after allowing two singles to start the inning. A walk to former teammate Wilson Ramos loaded the bases for Santana.

“One damn pitch. That is all it was,” Gonzalez said. “At the end of the day, I wish it was a better pitch.”

“I like Gio in that spot,” manager Dave Martinez said. “I didn’t think he would give up a grand slam. He was doing good; he had that bad inning. He’s a good pitcher. I have a lot of confidence in him.”

Catcher Matt Wieters, who had to leave the game with a sore back, said the pitch Santana hit was a changeup down in the strike zone.

“He put a good swing on it,” Wieters said.

Gonzalez gave up six hits, six runs and three walks with six strikeouts in five innings. His ERA rose to 4.57 and he has not won a game on the road since late May in Baltimore.

Washington (67-67) is now 4 games back of the second-place Phillies (71-62) in the National League East. The third-place Nationals, who began the day eight games behind first-place Atlanta, got homers from Trea Turner, Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon but still lost.

Gonzalez (7-11 this year) is now 0-7 with three no-decisions in his last 10 starts on the road. Overall the Nationals had lost 11 of his previous 13 starts overall, with his only victory at home August 9.

“A step backward,” Gonzalez said of his latest start.

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