(WJLA) - Gio Gonzalez is known as the jokester on the Nationals' roster, but he's learned some very serious lessons.
"You mature quickly," Gonzalez said. "Especially putting the past behind us, this year I came in focused, strong and ready to go. I'm just hungry. I want to go out there and compete at the top of the level."
Gonzalez has already competed for, and captured, one of the game's top honors. In 2012, Gonzalez won the Warren Spahn award, given annually to the best left-handed pitcher.
"It was chemistry," Gonzalez said. "Chemistry is huge in baseball. For us, we had great chemistry and got along right off the bat."
Shortly after, Gonzalez once again made headlines -- but not the kind he wanted. Gonzalez was listed in baseball's Bio Genesis scandal but eventually exonerated of any willing wrongdoing.
"At the end of the day you know what the right thing was," Gonzalez said. "You go about your business. I've always been a guy that went about my business. My thing is to keep your head held high."
Gonzalez is now focused on sharpening his fundamentals but there's one thing from the past he won't soon forget.
"Last year my biggest problem was getting over to first base, and I had an incident where it was a one hitter against the Mets," Gonzalez said. "That plays in the back of your head over and over."
Unlike last year, there is no World Series or bust mantra in Viera, Fla., and Gonzalez explained why.
"I don't think there's pressure on anyone this year," Gonzalez said. "At the end of the day we're going to play baseball. We're not going to be perfect, I'm not going to say we're going undefeated throughout the year...but we're going try."