BRADENTON, Fla. – Playing in front of his former teammate and mentor, Travis Snider, it took no time at all for Anthony Gose to remind Snider of the incredible impact Gose can have on a baseball game.
Gose led off the first inning by drawing a walk, and then scored all the way from first base on a grounder to third on which Pedro Alvarez threw wildly, though the throw only got about 40 feet away from first base, if that.
It was another piece of an eye-opening spring that Gose has had, giving new manager John Gibbons and his staff a chance to dream on the immense talent that the 22-year-old possesses.
Speaking in the Pirates’ clubhouse and looking out-of-place, to these eyes anyway, in black and gold, Snider marveled over Gose’s ability: "Gose has got an unbelievable ceiling and I’ve seen some unbelievable flashes of his talent and what he can do getting at-bats on a regular basis."
Gose has put it together this spring to the tune of a .344/.436/.531 line, stealing five bases in six attempts, but the 22-year-old harbours no illusions about his chances to make the Blue Jays out of spring training, putting it very simply, saying "I ain’t making this team."
He says that without any hint of anger or frustration, he simply recognizes the reality of his situation. "Colby (Rasmus is) the centrefielder, I know that." Gose continued, "The team’s set, there isn’t any room and I haven’t really done enough to show or prove that I need to be there, so there’s no sense in the organization having to rush me or put me in the big leagues. So I’ll go to triple-A and hopefully can get up there at some point during the season."
Gose’s attitude isn’t typical for a player of his age and talent level, especially one who has already spent some time in the major leagues. He gives Snider a lot of credit for helping him see the business of big-league baseball the way he does, saying that Travis "helped me out a lot last year more than anything in just becoming smarter about going about my business and doing things. He kind of helped me grow up a little bit, understand the game better and kept me under control and in check a little bit."
Snider definitely had trouble with those aspects of the game as he rocketed through the Blue Jays’ system, and he recognizes that now. He comes into camp with the Pirates out of options, battling for playing time in right field with Alex Presley and Jose Tabata. It may be a cliché, but you believe him when Snider tells you that he’s finally only concerned with what he can do to make his case for playing time.
"(I’m) not worrying so much about who has a job and who doesn’t have a job, who’s got options and who doesn’t have options." Snider says he can only do what he can do. "My focus remains on what I control, what I have to do. That stuff will play out how it plays out. As long as I’m handling stuff on my end, I just look to go out there and be prepared for whatever role comes my way. In the past, I didn’t deal with some of those changes, whether it was being a platoon guy or batting lower in the order. For me, all that stuff is so far behind me. Whenever you get to put on in a big-league uniform, you’ve got to embrace whatever role you’re in and go out there and play the game."
It can take a player a long time to come to that realization, and while it feels as though Snider has been around forever, he’s still barely a month removed from his 25th birthday. If he has helped Gose come around to that way of thinking, too, it will serve the Blue Jays’ centrefielder of the future very well.
Not that Gose doesn’t still have some work to do while he’s in Buffalo. Gose struck out in his two at-bats following that first-inning walk, and despite the eye-popping numbers, he has whiffed 10 times in just 32 Grapefruit League at-bats. Given his ridiculous speed, and the fact that he could probably hit .300 if he just bunted every single time he came to the plate, further development in his contact game could make Gose almost unstoppable.