Last week, I sat down with New Hampshire Fisher Cats outfielder Anthony Gose prior to a game against the New Britain Rock Cats. We spoke about how a native Californian handles the New England weather, how it feels to be one of the youngest players in the Eastern League, and the benefits of having a former major league catcher as your manager. I did not ask him if he’s ever heard, “There’s two o’s in Goose,” but it’s a long season.
It must’ve been killing you, some of the weather we were having [it had been in the forties the previous week].
I don’t mind, I’ve played in weather like this. So it’s not too big of a deal as far as ever playing in weather like this. Obviously it’s still cold and it’s still a bit of a shock when you get here because coming from the Florida State League all season, being in warm weather, Florida, California, your body gets used to that again, and then you come up here and you get stung by the cold. I mean, it’s a little bit different but hey, the season’s gotta go on.
So you still live in California?
No, I live in Florida now. I split time, really, between Florida and California, so I’m always in good weather, all year, for the most part, and now I’m here. But I heard it gets real nice in the summer time.
It does, it gets warm. Today was a nice sort of indicator of it. It’s been beautiful all day.
Yeah, it’s not as scary because now you go from freezing cold to now it’s warm, so I’m kinda like, probably gonna rain here pretty soon, one of these next few days. [Note: it rained the next day.]
Some days it goes quick. Yesterday it could be thirty degrees and the tomorrow it’s ninety. So you never know. Welcome to New England.
[laughs] It’s different.
It’s good prep for Canada.
That’s the ultimate goal.
That’s the dream to get up there, right?
Yeah, I mean, that’s the whole goal.
It’s not so cold up there when you’re playing in the major leagues.
No, I’m sure it’s not. [laughs]
One of the things I wanted to ask you about is your defense. I was actually at the game last week, I think it was last Thursday, ninth inning, tie ballgame, there was a guy on, and you went into the gap – it was a slicing line drive – you went into the gap and you laid out for it. Tracked it down. And the first thing I thought of was, I had to wonder what’s going through your head when you see a ball like that go up, and you know you’re gonna have a long way to go. What’s running through your mind? IS there anything running through your mind or is it just that your instincts take over?
God, I have to say instincts probably. Not too much thought that goes into it, really. I mean, I don’t know what other guys do or how they think, but before the pitch is coming I’m thinking I’m not gonna let anything fall here. Then it’s just a matter of getting to the ball, really, and making the catch. I don’t really think about, you know, am I gonna lay out here. Just kinda like you said, instinct and react to what’s going on.
Do you ever get to a point where you think you can get to it and then you realize, you’re almost there, and you go, “I’m not gonna make it”?
There are certain cases. I’m not gonna sit here and say I don’t, because there’s always times that things like that’ll happen, where I think I’ve got a good bead on a ball and then all of a sudden it’ll be a little bit farther than I had predetermined. That happens to everybody, I think, from infield to outfield, but it’s definitely happened to me.
So you just play it as it is and go get the next one?
Yeah, once that happens, once it’s already past me, there’s nothing I can do but hurry up and get it in, to the cutoff man or the next infielder. Once it’s by me, and there’s no catch, it’s time to do something different and get the ball in as fast as I can so we can stop the runner.
Now offensively, you’re off to a slow start this year, in the first three weeks or so [he was hitting .185 as of the day we spoke]. How do you keep your confidence up when you’re scuffling a little bit?
You know, the reason I have so much confidence right now, is because I’ve never been at this point in my career, to where I’m seeing the ball so good and not being able to get hits. I mean, everything…I’ve never felt this good in the box, honestly. I’m not swinging at balls in the dirt – obviously I do every once in awhile, it happens – but for the most part I’m laying off breaking balls and changeups that have always been my biggest, I guess you could say, Kryptonite. Right now, at this point, what I’m doing and what I’m feeling up there is something I’ve never felt, so it’s just a matter of, [the hits] are gonna come. I’m gonna get my hits, I’m gonna hit, so I don’t really worry. Confidence has never been an issue with me. I’m always real confident, and I like I said, I’ve never felt this good, and seeing the ball this good, and not gotten hits. So it’s just like, gotta keep going, rolling with the punches.
And you’re one of the youngest guys, not only on the team, but you’re one of the youngest guys in the whole league. What do you think of that?
It makes me feel good. Because like our manager [Sal Fasano] said a couple days ago, he gave us a talk and he said, “Who’s to say you can’t be eighteen in the big leagues? Who’s to say you can’t be seventeen in the big leagues?” Obviously it’s very rare, but why can’t I be twenty in the big leagues? And why can’t I be the youngest here? It doesn’t bother me. It makes me feel better. It makes me wanna play better, show the older guys that a young guy like me can play the game with them. Because obviously, we have veterans on this team, especially the pitching staff. My thing is, I want the pitching staff to WANT me out there. I want everybody to want me on the field because they know I’m gonna make the play, they know I’m gonna make something happen. And that’s the way I feel about it. It’s kind of almost gaining their respect, in some sense, and getting everybody to notice that just because I’m young, I can play the game with anybody. That I’m ready.
Your first year in pro ball, you had a pretty good success rate on your stolen base attempts, I think it was around 80%. Last year was down to about 58% or so. Were you able to look at what you did last year and say, “This is why I struggled with that”?
Oh yeah, I mean, that instance came up all season long. Throughout the season, when I got caught, I just looked back and I said, “This is why I got caught. This is the reason why it happened. This is what I did wrong to get caught stealing that base.” And the same sense went when I did something right, I’d say, if I stole a base easy, sometimes I’d look and I’d go, “Man, I haven’t stolen a base that easy, that felt really good. I gotta keep doing that.” Now it’s just a matter of being more consistent with it. But that was from every stolen base. I mean, that goes from when I’m in the box on offense to out there on defense, every time I go, “That felt good. I gotta keep doing that.” And then it’s just a matter of getting my body to do that over and over and over, consistently.
So that consistency is what you’re looking for?
That consistency, everywhere, no matter what part of the game, no matter what facet of the game, I’ve gotta be consistent. That’s what they do at the big league level. You know, [Jose] Bautista’s the most consistent player in the big leagues right now, with his swing. And then there’s outfielders who are the most consistent – you know, Torii Hunter, and Rajai Davis [Davis finished a rehab stint in New Hampshire last Wednesday], they’re in the big leagues because they do everything consistently. And that’s just where I’ve gotta get myself at and get my body to do. Just do it over and over.
Who did you look up to as a kid, and then is there anybody that you model yourself after as a player?
When I was a kid…I liked baseball, I didn’t really watch much, but one guy I did know because his name was always brought up around me was Juan Pierre, and I just kinda took him on as my favorite player. And then as I got older, started watching the game a little bit more and getting more in tune with it, I became a real big fan of Carl Crawford, watching him play, watching him on the highlights, seeing what he’s doing, how he goes about the game. And I’ve kind of taken that in, as growing up was Juan Pierre and now has become Carl Crawford.
That’s the guy you look at that you say, “If I could be him, that would be…”?
That’d be the guy.
I know that when you get on you like to run. I think I counted Opening Night it was like eight times or something you took off on a steal. Your manager here is Sal Fasano, former big league catcher. Does that have any effect on your learning curve as far as situations to run in, things to look for with the pitcher, the catcher, what the defense is thinking, stuff like that?
Oh, most definitely. Sal’s great. Sal wants to always make the odds in my favor. Not just my favor, but any base runner on his team, he wants the odds in our favor. Sal’s really big on situations, counts, the times – Sal’s so good with numbers, he just adds the numbers so well and gives you exactly what’s going on between the pitcher and the catcher, the pitcher to home plate, and the catcher to second base, that he lets you know right then if you can run or not. Then it’s a matter of him knowing the game so well and catching in the big leagues for, I think it was about thirteen years? Twelve, thirteen years? He caught in the big leagues, caught the greatest guys, and being behind the plate, he knows the situations, and the counts, what time in the game, when’s a good time to go, when’s a good time not to go. You know, all that plays in such a big effect, and it’s been great.
So he’ll actually kind of show you and tell you the right way?
Yeah, I mean, he gives me the situation and the count. And you know who has been the biggest help, as far as technique, has been Justin Mashore, our hitting coach. He’s given me so much, so much, not only offensively, but also on the basepaths and in the outfield – he was said to be an unbelievable outfielder, you know, could run really fast and stole a lot of bases – he worked with me on the basepaths and it’s been unbelievable, the transformation from the things that he’s taught me to when I just came in. I came in just doing it on ability and now he’s given me a skill and a craft, almost, I guess you could say. I appreciate him so much because of what he has shown me and done for me and helped me out, out there and offensively. It’s just been unbelievable.
Last July, I guess it was the 29th, you got traded to Houston for Roy Oswalt, which is kind of a cool thing in itself, and then almost right away you got traded over here to Toronto. What was going through your head that day? Were you hearing things that you might be dealt, and how quickly did it happen that you went from A to B to C?
You know, it didn’t phase me, it didn’t bother me one bit at all, honestly. I kinda expected to be traded, at the beginning of the season, just from other things that were going on, so I had already prepared myself, and I just was, if I’m gonna get traded or if I wanna get traded, I gotta go out there and I gotta play the game and do things right. So it wasn’t really a big effect, you know, like they say, they always tell you about trades: it’s a business also, which a lot of people look past but it is a business. And the big league team is where it’s at, they want that team to win a World Series, so they’re gonna sacrifice some of the guys in the minor leagues to make the big league team better. So you can’t ever think that you’re not gonna get traded or look past anything in any aspect like that of the game. You almost have to…I don’t wanna say “expect it”, but you gotta be ready for anything that can happen here.
And one of the other guys that writes for our site pointed out that you went from the Phillies team in the Florida State League to the Blue Jays team in the Florida State League. Did you notice anything with the fans or anything?
They’re so close, you don’t really notice too much of a difference. The parks, they gotta be five minutes away from each other? I mean, it’s literally across the street from each other. So you don’t notice really too much of a difference in fans or anything like that. You’re playing against them all season so those fans have been rooting against you, and now they’re cheering for you, it’s not really a big deal.
What are your goals for the rest of the year?
You know, the rest of the year…maybe be in Toronto. But really, honestly, just have a good season, help the team win. I’ve won a championship in Lakewood, helped win a championship in Lakewood, and that’s an unbelievable feeling, to win a championship, to be a part of a winning team. That’s the whole goal is to help the team win, finish strong, lead the team in as many ways and as best I can, and keep us rolling.
Thanks to Fisher Cats Media Relations Manager Matt Leite for coordinating this interview.