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DETROIT — The last time Anthony Gose was at Comerica Park, things looked a little different. For starters, he was wearing a Tigers uniform. He was also about 250 feet farther away from home plate.
Gose’s journey from talented center field prospect to Major League reliever is one not many have been on, but some things remain the same. He’s still bringing the speed, but now it comes from his arm and not his feet.
As Gose looked on from the visitors’ bullpen during the ninth inning of the Guardians’ 2-1 loss to the Tigers on Sunday, he had time to ponder the first time he’d taken the field in Detroit since May 8, 2016. What’s most remarkable about that is that, when faced with the potential end of his career or the opportunity to transition into a pitcher, the 15th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft took the latter option and ran with it.
“I bet you there’s probably two or three guys that have [successfully transitioned],” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “I mean, it’s different. You know, I used to be that guy that would come in on the blowout games and throw a knuckleball and you know, pitch an inning.
“When guys are trying to beat you, it’s different. You’re holding runners. We all love the kid, but what he is doing is really impressive.”
Since joining the Guardians, Gose has held opponents scoreless in 14 of 17 career MLB relief outings and fanned 23 in 18 innings.
“It’s hard to find a better guy to pull for than Anthony,” Guardians general manager Mike Chernoff said. “… At the same time, you have to make the right decision for the team, and you can’t just pull the heartstrings like that. But with him, it was really a combination of both: We felt like he was performing at the Minor League level and capable with his stuff to get guys out at the Major League level.
“And you knew that he was going to give it everything that he had. We’ve seen that play out … with what he can do, just in terms of his stuff.”
Gose is the first to admit that the past six seasons were littered with moments when he wasn’t sure it would work. But he kept at it and eventually earned his way back to the Majors, debuting as a pitcher when the Guardians promoted him on Sept. 20, 2021, following a 6-1 season and 3.55 ERA and 1.45 WHIP across 33 innings (28 appearances) with Triple-A Columbus.
“There were a lot of points when I thought [this wouldn’t work out],” he said. “You get hurt, you have a hard time finding the strike zone, and the whole thing behind being up here is being able to throw strikes. If you can’t throw strikes, you have a hard time pitching up here or even getting here.”
“I didn’t want to stop,” Gose added. “I just wanted to keep playing.”
By the time Cleveland’s weekend series in Detroit rolled around, the only Tigers still on the roster from Gose’s tour were slugger Miguel Cabrera and reliever Michael Fulmer. Gose admits that the days when he roamed the outfield in Detroit seem like another lifetime.
Now 31 years old, Gose has emerged as a leader in one of the younger clubhouses in baseball despite his lack of service time.
“It’s incredible,” Chernoff said. “… The perspective that he brings, not just from being an older guy, but also everything that he’s been through in his 10 years or whatever … it adds a whole new level to the team in just helping guys sort of put things in perspective within a game.”