There has been plenty of news out of Detroit Tigers camp in Lakeland, Fla. on Sunday morning, but one nugget trumps them all: center fielder Anthony Gose, who was recently assigned to minor league camp, will begin throwing some bullpen sessions in Triple-A Toledo. This is not a full-time conversion, but could ultimately become a “side project,” according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
While this news is surprising to say the least, there is some history here. By all accounts, Gose was a great pitcher in high school, reaching as high as the mid-90s. He chose to play in the outfield when drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, where his arm has always been a strength. Commanding that velocity and developing a useful secondary pitch are the biggest hurdles Gose faces to finding a role in the major leagues.
Lefties who throw in the mid-90s will always get plenty of looks from major league clubs, and Gose’s versatility as a position player only helps his chances. He has struggled at the plate in his major league career, but is a solid defender in center field, and has enough speed to be an interesting pinch-running option in late innings. If he can prove to be a solid reliever as well, he could be a unique weapon off the bench.
Gose’s new interest is very uncommon, but not completely unique. Christian Bethancourt, a catcher for the San Diego Padres, is also attempting to become a two-way player. Bethancourt made two appearances out of the bullpen for the Padres last season, and he walked three hitters in 1 2⁄3 innings. He is still in the running to make the Padres’ roster — and become the first pitcher-catcher in the major leagues since World War II.
Whether Gose carves out a relief role or not, his chances at returning to the major leagues are dwindling. He was unable to crack the Tigers’ 25-man roster this spring despite major questions in center field, and JaCoby Jones is inching closer to full-time duty.