Braves pitcher Kris Medlen is a candidate for one of the two vacancies in the Atlanta rotation. He is coming off a surgically repaired elbow. Medlen pitched only 2 1/3 innings last season after starting 14 games in 2010.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla — Gio Gonzalez said he wanted to “jump out of the chute” in his spring debut for the Washington Nationals.
And he wasn’t kidding.
Gonzalez pitched two scoreless innings, allowed only one hit and struck out two as the Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves, 5-2, on Tuesday.
Gonzalez said he was fired up for his first game as a National after being traded by the Oakland Athletics during the offseason.
“I wanted to get started right off the bat,” he said. “I was throwing hard and may have been a little overanxious, but I had a lot of fun out there.”
Gonzalez’s pitches were registering in the high-90s, a lot faster than most pitchers want for their first spring outing. Gonzalez said the numbers might have been exaggerated, but he wasn’t sure.
“I had my adrenaline pumping,” Gonzalez said. “If that is what the radar gun says, then my arm is lying to me. Maybe the radar guns were more juiced than I was, but I’m not sure.”
Kris Medlen started for the Braves and went two innings. He gave up three hits, including a homer to Jayson Werth.
Medlen is a candidate for one of the two vacancies in the Atlanta rotation. He is coming off a surgically repaired elbow. Medlen pitched only 2 1/3 innings last season after starting 14 games in 2010.
Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman also made his spring debut. He was 0-for-2, but made seven putouts. He injured his right kneecap during fielding drills Feb. 28.
But the day really belonged to Gonzalez.
He was 16-12 last season with the Athletics and was acquired for three pitching prospects. He struggled with his control last season, but walked only one in his two innings against the Braves.
“I thought he looked great,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “He didn’t look rusty at all. I had a pitch count on him and he reached it in the second inning, but he looked strong so I let him go.”
Gonzalez was the subject of trade rumors after last season, but said Washington is a perfect fit for him and he’s looking forward to being in a Nationals uniform for a long time.
“Washington is where I want to be,” Gonzalez said. “I still feel like I am fighting for a job in this rotation.”
Since John Lannan led the Nationals with 10 wins as a starter last season, Gonzalez probably doesn’t have to worry about having a spot in the rotation.
Gonzalez, 26, was drafted by the Chicago White Sox, traded to Philadelphia and then swapped back to the White Sox before being dealt to Oakland. He feels like he has found a permanent home in Washington.
“I liked the trade,” Gonzalez said. “For the first time in my life, I was the main man in the trade.”
Werth, coming off a disappointing 2011 season, homered to right to put the Nationals ahead and went 1-for-2. Chad Tracy doubled in two runs in the third to put Washington ahead, 3-0.
Brett Carroll had two hits for the Nationals.
Notes: Braves Hall of Famer Phil Niekro arrived in camp and will work as an adviser until March 10. ... Atlanta 3B Chipper Jones missed his third straight game with an injured left heel. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said it was nothing to worry about. .. Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann will start today against St. Louis in Viera. Shelby Miller will start for the Cardinals. … Washington 1B Adam LaRoche was expected to play, but is slowly working his way back following surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff damage in his left shoulder. He is expected to sit out today’s game against St. Louis as well.