Detroit – Say what you want about Anthony Gose, but he is a straight-shooter, and when it comes to self-assessment, he pulls no punches.
He has stolen 20 bases this season and been caught 10 times – this does not please him.
"I've run the bases terribly," he said. "It's something I've been better at and something I should be better at this year. Getting caught 10 times – I don't know how many of those were by left-handers picking over – but getting caught 10 times is a lot."
He's been picked off twice at first base and been thrown out six other times at other bases (twice at home). His problem, in terms of base stealing, hasn't been his jumps or his technique. His 67-percent steal rate, pedestrian for a player with his speed, is due to two factors – arrogance and inexperience.
"I know how to run the bases," he said. "But I get on first and my mouth writes checks my (butt) can't cash, basically. I bite off more than I can chew. Just too much ego involved. I want to steal. They don't want me to go unless the pitcher is under 1.1 (seconds to the plate). But I'm going to show you I can do it.
"I try to get the best jump and they get me."
For the record, arrogance is a prerequisite to being a master base stealer. Think Ricky Henderson – "I'm the greatest of all-time." You have to be fearless. But the arrogance has be tempered with game savvy.
"He's still learning how to steal bases," said manager Brad Ausmus, who despite being a catcher ran well and averaged just under 12 steals a season from 1995 through 2000. "He's got the speed but there's a little bit of an art form to stealing bases. Especially when you are fast. People are very aware of you, so you have to learn to pick your spots and read the pitcher.
"You can't outrun the baseball at the Major League level like you can in the lower minor leagues. We've talked to him about that quite a bit."
Gose gets it. But this is his first full season in the big leagues and, well, he wants to test his limits.
"It's just been picking terrible times to go, bad counts and bad situations," Gose said. "I felt like I've been getting really good jumps, but you can't outrun the baseball. A guy is 1.1 to the plate and I'm still trying to go. Not very smart. I've cost myself."
Ausmus and first base coach Omar Vizquel have spent considerable time counseling Gose on which counts are best to run on, about pitchers tendencies, which use slide steps, which are quickest to the plate, etc.
But the only effective education is playing the game.
"There is nothing I can do in the offseason that is going to help me," Gose said. "It's not a lack of speed and it's not a lack of jumps. It's running in better situations, and nothing I do in the offseason is going to help me with that. I am at a point in my life where I'm not going to get three steps faster.
"If a guy is 1.1, maybe I wait until he gives you a 1.3 with a high leg kick, or just don't run. I try to take gambles, thinking I can do it."
The 67-percent success rate has taught Gose a harsh lesson about the perils of risk-taking at this level. He thinks his success rate should be no worse than high-80s; low-90s would be preferable.
But he's not making any predictions. That lesson has already been learned – the hard way.
"When I was in A-ball, I told a reporter before the season that I was going to lead that league in stolen bases," he said. "And after I stole a bunch early, I told him I was going to break the team record in Low-A. I stole 76 bases and broke the record.
"The next year (in High-A) he comes to me and said he wants to hear my prediction and I said I'm going to steal 100 bases. I stole like 45 and got caught 32 times. So I'm done with predictions. I will just say I am going to steal as many as I can."