Anthony Gose was already looking forward to a big 2012.
On Thursday in Toronto, the Blue Jays showed him just how big a year it could potentially be for him.
The 21-year-old centre fielder was just one of seven Blue Jays prospects in town to attend a minor league camp that had little to do with exercise but everything to do with providing a sense for what life might be like with the big club.
“The thought process behind it is we’d like to kind of demystify Toronto and some of the things the guys will encounter when they get here for the very first time,” said Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava. “Some of the things like where the clubhouse is, getting to know the support staff that are here, little things like that that might help in the transition when the player eventually gets to the big leagues.”
Joining Gose among the chosen few on Thursday were right-handed starters Drew Hutchison and Chad Jenkins, left-handed reliever Evan Crawford; infield defensive specialist Jon Diaz; outfielder Moises Sierra and first basemen Mike McDade. Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria was also scheduled to attend, but visa issues prevented him from leaving the U.S.
“We generally take guys that we think are relatively close, within a year or so of making their debut,” said LaCava.
For the likes of Gose—whom some believe could make his major league debut this September, if not before then—the opportunity to get an up-close look at what life might be like inside the Jays spacious clubhouse was a powerful incentive.
“Just stick the bone in front of the dog and watch him chase it,” he explained. “The players need that, I need it, just that little extra push to get you over the top.”
Chad Jenkins—the team’s first round draft pick in 2009—was equally impressed by the Blue Jays Rogers Centre digs.
“This is definitely a big incentive, it’s gorgeous,” he explained. “The lockers are huge, the couches are comfortable. There’s probably about 10 TVs in here so you can always watch something. It really is hanging a carrot right in front of our faces. We’re definitely chasing this hard.”
In addition to the tours, the players also took part in a media training session that touched on the dangers of social media. On Friday night they’ll attend the Toronto Raptors home game against the Indiana Pacers before heading back home early next week.
“They’re definitely trying to familiarize us with the city and learning how to better deal with the media and conduct ourselves, so it’s been beneficial so far,” said 21-year-old Hutchison, whom Blue Jays manager John Farrell pointed to last week as a player who could surprise this spring.
“It’s humbling with people thinking that highly of you to bring you here and kind of shows you where you stand I guess you could say.”