Detroit Tigers center fielder Anthony Gose was sent down to the minors on Sunday, having lost the competition to be the Tigers starting center fielder after batting .237 in 16 games. It’s the latest chapter in what’s been a rough few years for Gose. He was the Tigers starting center fielder in 2015 (.254/.321/.367 in 140 games), but struggled mightily in 2016 (.209/.287/.341 in 30 games). So the Tigers demoted him to Triple-A, where he got into an argument with his manager and was demoted to Double-A.
Even though he was sent down on Sunday, that doesn’t mean his career as a center fielder is over. But Gose has a different path in mind, and the Tigers are along for the ride.
After he was cut, Gose told his manager Brad Ausmus that he wants to try his hand at pitching. It seems like a big leap from outfielder to pitcher, but this isn’t some hare-brained idea he came up with while walking his dog. Gose was a pitcher in high school, and Keith Law of ESPN remembers seeing him. Here’s what he told the Detroit Free Press via text message.
“Saw him up to 97, super fast arm, violent delivery, thought he was probably a reliever in the end but better chances than as a hitter.”
Gose is 26 now, so high school was at least eight years ago. It would be pretty nuts if he could still throw that hard right away, after years of not pitching. But 97 mph, even back then, isn’t nothing. And the Tigers are open to letting Gose explore playing a new position.
This doesn’t mean that Gose is done with center field — he’s going to keep playing that position in the minors. But he’ll be working on his pitching at the same time. Here’s what manager Brad Ausmus said to the Free Press.
“He’s going to go down and play some outfield,” Ausmus said. “He came back to us with an idea we had talked about internally at the end of last season. He’s going to actually throw a couple bullpens here and there. He was a guy who threw in the mid-90s in high school. He’s still going to keep playing centerfield, don’t get me wrong. But we’re going to try it out and see what happens. He came to us with it afterward.”
It’s definitely worth trying out, especially if Gose feels a little frustrated with the path he’s been on. A number of position players have made successful conversions to pitchers over the years, like Sean Doolittle, Alexi Ogando, Jason Motte, and Kenley Jansen. Of course, it’s worth noting that those pitchers made their conversions when they were significantly younger than Gose. But just because Gose is older doesn’t mean that door is closed to him. And besides, what team wouldn’t have a use for a guy who could pitch AND play the outfield?
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