It’s hours before the game and Anthony Gose is in the back hallways of Coca-Cola Field working with hitting coach Jon Nunnally. The instruction continues when they got on the field for official batting practice as they discuss the finer points of his stance at the plate.
There is work. Plenty of it.
If Gose knew exactly what was wrong, what was causing his offense to slide, he would fix it – so right now everything is on the table as the Toronto Blue Jays prospect tries to fix his production at the plate in Buffalo.
He’s working on “everything. Everything top to bottom,” Gose said. “Just trying to figure it out. That’s really what’s going on. Just trying to figure out the cause of prolonged struggles and why it’s happening and what’s going on.
“It’s been more frustrating than ever mentally. More frustrating that ever physically. It’s just been one of those things where I’m just trying to get through it and hopefully turn the page here shortly.”
Gose went 1 for 4 with a single, run scored and two strikeouts on Saturday night as the Buffalo Bisons lost to the Toledo Mud Hens, 12-3, in front of 7,841 at Coca-Cola Field.
Gose has struggled to find his form at the plate. After a hot start, along with the rest of the Herd, Gose cooled off. He was batting .227 on May 19 and was called up to Toronto for two-and-half weeks. He played in 13 games and hit .304.
But there wasn’t a corresponding bump when he came back to Buffalo. His numbers dipped. His average twice bottomed out at .219, the last time after he went 0 for 3 against Rochester on July 3.
His strikeouts, long an area of concern for Gose, have been high. At the All-Star break he already had 89. He went into Saturday’s game with 91 on the season. Last year with Triple-A Las Vegas, he had 101 for the season.
Compare his numbers to last year and it’s a down season for Gose.
The 22-year old said he doesn’t necessarily evaluate his performance based on statistics, but he sure knows that the quality of his at-bats is not where it’s been in the past, or where he thinks it should be.
“I don’t care about the numbers. It’s not numbers. It’s more the result and how the result is taking place,” Gose said. “Ninety strikeouts and not even close to hitting the ball is … to me, ridiculous. When you’re only getting hits that don’t leave the infield or barely make it to the outfield grass, it’s frustrating.
“It’s not so much the numbers. I could care less about the numbers. It’s more of what’s happening and how it’s happening. That’s what’s been the most frustrating, the most baffling to me.”
The best antidote to that frustrating feeling is more work in the cage on both the mechanics of the stance and the mentality of the approach.
Nunnally said the biggest technical issue they are addressing is his stance. The idea is not just be comfortable with the stance but for Gose to also put himself in the best position to hit. It becomes a bit of trial and error and Nunnally allows Gose to decide what feels right and effective for him. If the tweak feels good, the task becomes developing consistency with it.
“A lot of times he’s late and then all of a sudden he gets to a position where he can’t even pull the trigger sometimes,” Nunnally said. “That just comes from not being in a good, consistent position to hit when he goes out to take his at-bats. But he’s starting to understand that and realizing what he needs to do to try and get himself there. Now it’s just a matter of getting him consistent with it.
“He has the athletic ability to be a superstar. But to be one of those guys he has to understand making an adjustment from at-bat to at-bat or from pitch to pitch. He’s learning. He’s still 22 years old. He’s going to get that.”
Saturday also was the second Major League Rehabilitation start with Buffalo for Melky Cabrera, who went 2 for 2 in three plate appearances with an RBI and run scored. He left the game after the fifth inning and Bisons manager Marty Brown said that Cabrera was headed to Toronto.
“He’s going to head up to Toronto,” Brown said. “They just wanted him to get three at-bats or six innings of work in the outfield. I mean he can hit. It doesn’t matter which side of the plate you put him on. He’s got the ability to hit. I don’t necessarily believe that he’s 100 percent but Melky feels that he’s good to go and obviously they want to get him in the lineup. We wish him the best. He goes about his job the right way.”
In the 12-3 loss, Toledo collected 17 hits, though three of the Mud Hens’ runs were unearned after errors by Mike McCoy (fifth inning) and Ryan Goins (ninth). Claudio Vargas, making a spot start since Ricky Romero was sick with a virus, took the loss, giving up five runs on eight hits in three innings.
“I think Claudio got away from his game plan a little bit and he didn’t have the command he needed to get the ball to either side of the plate and they took advantage of that,” Brown said.
“We didn’t play overly great defense either. Even though there weren’t a ton of errors up on the board, still we just misplayed a couple balls, took some bad routes. It was kind of a sloppily played game.”