Anthony Gose is ready for a break from baseball.
After a disappointing season for the Toronto Blue Jays – and a particularly trying campaign for Gose – the centre fielder is eagerly awaiting some time away from the game he loves.
“I’m trying to do absolutely nothing. I’m trying to get away from baseball. That’s where I’m at,” Gose said. “That means no watching any sports… all sporting events, all baseball – nothing. I will not watch a playoff game. I will not watch a World Series game. I could care less who wins.”
Unlike many of his peers around MLB, Gose won’t even be watching the NFL – “doesn’t interest me” – or the NBA – “I want nothing to do with it.” He’ll work out, but he doesn’t want anything to do with sports until the spring.
After nearly 106 games at triple-A and 52 more with the Blue Jays, Gose is looking forward to some physical and mental rest.
"[I want to] get away. Clear my mind," he said. "Spend time with my family. Spend time with my friends."
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Other than visiting close friend and teammate Colby Rasmus, Gose will keep his distance from the game following what he describes as a season with "a lot of ups and downs."
Gose hit .239 with a .316 on-base percentage and three home runs with the Buffalo Bisons this year, his second consecutive season spent primarily at triple-A. His play eventually frustrated Bisons manager Marty Brown enough to call Gose out publicly following a mental lapse on defence in June.
"Anthony knows better than that," Brown told reporters at the time. "We’re going to have to get his head removed from some place it shouldn’t be."
Once Gose returned to MLB level in August - his head, presumably, in a better place - his numbers improved. In 52 MLB games this year, the native of Paramount, CA, batted .259 with a .283 on-base percentage and a .408 slugging percentage.
While those numbers are respectable for a 23-year-old just beginning his career, Gose had far more impressive seasons in recent years. In double-A in 2011 he stole 70 bases while hitting 16 home runs, posting a .349 on-base percentage. The next year he advanced to triple-A and hit .286 with a .366 on-base percentage.
In that context, it’s not hard to understand why Gose sees his 2013 season as a disappointment.
"Probably the worst I’ve played," he said. "On the bases, on defence, at the plate, I think this has been the worst all-around year I’ve had."
Gose does believe he has made some adjustments at the plate that will enable him to convert his skills into results. Even though it’s been a difficult six months, he continues to learn from those around him, particularly with respect to putting the ball in play.
"Making solid contact, having more consistent at-bats, maybe not in the sense of numbers, but in the sense of hitting the ball consistently, putting it in play consistently, on the barrel more consistently," he said. "Things like that. I’d say a few more extra-base hits. I’d say those are the biggest positives."
John Gibbons says he’s encouraged by the progress Gose has shown in recent weeks. The Blue Jays’ manager says maintaining that production for a full season will be the next challenge for a player who joined the Blue Jays’ organization as a highly-touted prospect in 2010.
"I like everything I’m seeing now. It’s just consistency," Gibbons said. "We still think if he gets that stride going the right way he could just take off."
For now Gibbons and the Blue Jays have reason to believe the former second-round selection can still become an impact MLB player. Yet Gose realizes that acknowledging his struggles won’t be enough to make them disappear; sticking in the majors is a continual battle.
"It could go south," he said with a laugh. "I’m hoping it doesn’t. There’s always going to be moments when it’s not as good, whether it’s offence or defence. Something’s going to happen. It’s a long season, we play a lot of games; it’s not always going to be good, but you’ve just got to minimize the lows and maximize the highs."
Barring major changes, the Blue Jays will enter the 2014 season with a starting outfield of Rasmus, Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera, meaning Gose will likely be optioned to the minor leagues or begin the season as a fourth outfielder.
"I’ve got no clue," Gose said. "When you look at those names, it looks like I’m in triple-A. But you never know what’s going to happen."
"I don’t know if I’ve done enough. I’ll just wait and see what happens in the spring."
Gose says he’d embrace being a fourth outfielder 100 per cent if that’s what the Blue Jays ask him to do next year. Even after a difficult year, he hasn’t lost sight of his ultimate goal: playing baseball at the highest level.
"I’d throw batting practice if I could be in the big leagues," Gose said. "I’d go catch bullpens. If they got me a catcher’s mitt I’d go catch bullpens. I’d go get guys drinks all day if that meant staying in the big leagues all year. Will that happen? I don’t know."