The day after being quoted in a newspaper article as being at the “lowest point … in my career,” outfielder Anthony Gose got promoted by the Blue Jays from Triple-A Buffalo and arrived at Rogers Centre on Monday in time for the afternoon game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I was definitely surprised,” said Gose, 23, mired in a 7-for-44 slump with the Bisons. “They called me this morning and told me I was going up, and I kept asking, ‘Is this for real?’ ”
The Blue Jays had been going with an extra pitcher in the bullpen. When Gose came up, right-hander Mickey Storey went back to Buffalo following two appearances.
Manager John Gibbons said he’d be used as a defensive replacement and for his base running skills – appearing in 56 games for the Blue Jays last season, he stole 15 bases in 18 tries. Gose normally plays centre field, a position occupied by Colby Rasmus with Emilio Bonifacio as backup.
There was no telling on Monday morning if the Blue Jays are contemplating another move to clear playing time for Gose. During spring training, the club indicated from the outset that it was preferable for his development to have Gose playing full-time in Buffalo rather than part-time in Toronto.
“He’s definitely shown a lot of progress,” Gibbons said. “They’re high on him in the organization. He can come up and help us in different ways.”
Gose, 23, was traded with pitcher J.A. Happ by Philadelphia to Houston on July 29, 2010, and obtained by the Jays the same day for first baseman Brett Wallace. (Toronto obtained Happ in a separate deal, two years later).
Lat year in Toronto, Gose struggled with plate discipline when pitchers challenged him with the breaking ball. At Buffalo this season, he started out by hitting .309 through 14 games before diving into the slump. Hitting in the 2-hole, he'd struck out 15 times in a span of 36 at-bats during his slump.
“Everything was just going downhill for me,” said Gose, an open, up-front personality. “It kept sliding away and sliding away. When you dig yourself into a hole mentally, it’s tough to get out of.”
A sit-down with Buffalo manager Marty Brown and a heart-to-heart during a visit from his father, Steve (“pull your head out,” he quoted his father as saying), helped resuscitate his state of being these past few days.
Brown has repeatedly compared Gose with Grady Sizemore of the Cleveland Indians when he played in Buffalo as a prospect. Sizemore would play eight seasons for Cleveland, hitting more than 20 home runs and stealing more than 20 bases between 2005 and 2008, peaking at 33 and 38 respectively in ’08.
“It’s harder for Anthony than it was for Grady, but the talent is off the charts,” Brown told the Buffalo News. “He runs better than Grady. He has more range than Grady. He has a better arm than Grady. Grady was a grinder. He never gave at-bats away. He wouldn’t fail the same way twice. That’s what made Grady, Grady. And that’s what Anthony has to learn.”
After hugs and handshakes Monday morning in Toronto, Gose stepped into the cage for batting practice. After his first round, hitting instructor Chad Mottola began talking with him, and again after the second round, then the third.
“I’m happier than can be right now,” Gose said afterwards. “I’m just here to play and have a good time and hopefully fit in wherever I can. When they tell me it’s time to play, it’s time to play.”
Told of Gose’s comment in the Buffalo News about bottoming out mentally, Gibbons, 50, said in a wry fashion: “He hasn’t been playing that long. … but he would know, better than I would.”