TORONTO — Given his numbers at triple-A Buffalo, Anthony Gose wasn’t expecting a call from the Blue Jays.
When it came, he still didn’t quite believe it.
“Definitely surprised,” he said of the call-up. “I didn’t even know what to think. They called me this morning, told me I was going up. I kept asking was it real? I didn’t know what was happening. … I just couldn’t believe I was going up.”
That’s because the 22-year-old outfielder was in a major-league slump in the minors.
Gose was hitting .227 with a .343 on-base percentage in 40 games with the Bisons this season, along with five doubles, two triples, two home runs and five stolen bases. He struck out 41 times in 154 at-bats.
“You guys saw the numbers,” he told reporters prior to Monday’s game against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays. “Everything was just going downhill for me, it just kept sliding away and sliding away. And when you dig yourself into that hole mentally, it’s tough to get out of.”
He had a decent spring training (hitting .255) and had an “unbelievable” first month at Buffalo. Then the bottom fell out.
Gose was in a 6-for-40 slump in 10 games before Sunday’s game in Charlotte, when he went 1-for-4 with a walk.
“Right now, I’m probably at the lowest point I’ve ever been in my career,” he told the Buffalo News. “It’s been frustrating. It has felt like the longest month of my life, honestly. It’s part of baseball. They say everybody goes through it, but I see guys hitting .390 and it doesn’t look like they’re going through it. It’s definitely back to the learning stage again.”
His classroom is back in the big leagues. On Monday, he spent extra time with hitting coach Chad Mottola at batting practice.
Gose says he has felt better the last two days, thanks in part to a sit-down with Buffalo manager Marty Brown and hitting coach John Nunnally and a visit from his dad.
The visit of father Steve was especially valued, even if Gose said he couldn’t repeat on camera or in front of a microphone what his father had told him.
“There were some explicit words,” he said with a laugh. “Basically just pull your head out and stay positive, keep working.”
The summons from the Jays has also boosted his spirits.
“I can’t even explain how excited I am,” said Gose. “I’m happier than can be right now.
Gose can help take the load of Melky Cabrera, coming in as defensive replacement late in games to help rest Cabrera’s wonky hamstring. He has also has speed on the basepaths.
“He’ll help us in different ways,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said somewhat vaguely.
“And we like him,” he added.
Gibbons said he didn’t know if Gose was a short- or long-term addition.
“We’ll see how it develops,” the manager said when asked.
The six-foot-one, 195 pound left-handed Gose made his major-league debut last season with Toronto, appearing in 56 games, batting .223 with one home run, 11 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.
The Paramount, Calif., native has hit .261 over six minor league seasons, adding 233 stolen bases in 551 games.
To make room, the Jays optioned right-handed pitcher Mickey Storey to Buffalo. Storey appeared in two games for Toronto, allowing three runs in 3.2 innings.