Gon­za­lez in the mix for sea­son opener?

John­son not ready to re­veal ro­ta­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY AMANDA COMAK

JUPITER, FLA. | Gio Gon­za­lez and his fa­mil­ial en­tourage rolled into Roger Dean Sta­dium around 8:30 a.m. Sun­day. They turned out more than 20 strong to watch the Hialeah, Fla., na­tive in his sec­ond spring start — from his par­ents, Max and Yolanda, to aunts, un­cles, cousins and the Hialeah base­ball team he helps spon­sor and coach.

It was noth­ing com­pared to what the Gon­za­lez clan ex­pects when the Washington Na­tion­als visit the Mi­ami Mar­lins this sea­son, but he could hear them all cheer­ing from their perch atop the stands.

“Are you kid­ding me? My par­ents, I had to tell them, turn it down a notch,” Gon­za­lez said, his smile hint­ing at his pride­ful em­bar­rass­ment. “We’re all grown men here. This ain’t the Khoury League any­more.”

It’s not in his home state like Sun­day’s game was, but if Gon­za­lez were to pitch on Open­ing Day in Chicago, 24 days from now, his ticket-re­quest line may just ex­plode.

Gon­za­lez was su­perb against the St. Louis Car­di­nals, need­ing just 51 pitches to get through four in­nings be­fore rain halted the game in the mid­dle of the fourth with the Na­tion­als up 1-0. His curve­ball was sharp from the get-go, strik­ing out his first bat­ter Shane Robin­son swing­ing on a pitch that the bot­tom dropped out of, and he didn’t let down from there.

It was the lat­est in a string of strong per­for­mances from the Na­tion­als’ starters as they near the end of their sec­ond full turn through the ro­ta­tion. Jor­dan Zim­mer­mann will be the final starter to make his sec­ond ap­pear­ance

am­ples in re­cent years. These mis­cal­cu­la­tions hap­pen, scouts say, be­cause quar­ter­back­ing is such a mys­te­ri­ous en­ter­prise, so de­pen­dent on un­mea­sur­ables (e.g. heart, lead­er­ship and, in­creas­ingly it would seem, a cra­nium that’s con­cus­sion-proof).

So the Red­skins aren’t the only club that’s un­der the gun. Heck, a decade from now, the Cleve­land Browns’ front of­fice might be don­ning hair shirts be­cause they didn’t of­fer enough for the sec­ond pick — and let Mike Shana­han and Bruce Allen swoop in and grab it. There’s much at stake for peo­ple in this draft, as much as there’s been in quite a while.

Speak­ing of “a decade from now,” that’s the bench­mark, isn’t it? Ev­ery­body’s try­ing to find a quar­ter­back who can play for them for 10 years. And that’s what the Red­skins are hop­ing Grif­fin can do. But you for­get how rare a QB like that is. In the free agent era (1993-present), only Brett Favre, Pey­ton Man­ning, Brady, Mcnabb and Matt Has­sel­beck have started for one team for 10-plus full sea­sons. Five oth­ers (Dan Marino, John El­way, Troy Aik­man, Jim Kelly and War­ren Moon — all Hall of Famers) had streaks of 10 years or longer that be­gan in the ’80s and over­lapped with the era.

If RG3 can hold down the Red­skins job for a decade, it would put him in aw­fully ac­com­plished com­pany. He’d be the big­gest thing to hit the town since air con­di­tion­ing.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Red­skins traded three first-round draft choices and a sec­ond-round pick for the chance to se­lect Robert Grif­fin III.

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