Tigers' Gose gets lesson in situational running

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Anthony Gose steals third and heads home after an errant throw in the third inning Monday.

Lakeland, Fla. — It's called spring training for a reason. There are lessons to be learned down here, especially for younger players.

In the Tigers' 6-4 Grapefruit League win Monday against the Blue Jays, Tigers center fielder Anthony Gose got a refresher course in situational baserunning.

The situation:

Gose, acquired in an offseason trade with the Blue Jays, almost single-handedly accounted for two runs that gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead in the third. He tied the game with an RBI double on a ball that caromed off pitcher Daniel Norris' glove — yes, a double off the pitcher's glove. The ball rolled into short left field.

So Gose is on second with nobody out and the heart of the Tigers order coming up, starting with Yoenis Cespedes. That's when Gose went rogue on the bases. He held his lead until catcher Dioner Navarro threw the ball back to Norris. Then he broke and stole third.

Norris, rattled, threw hastily and wild to third, allowing Gose to trot home with the go-ahead run.

Good hustle, bad play.

"Realistically, you've got the heart of your order coming up and no outs, it's probably not the ideal time (to try that)," manager Brad Ausmus said. "If you've got the bottom of the order coming up and one out, you are a little more willing to take a chance."

Gose knew immediately that he took a bad risk.

"It was a brain (cramp)," he said. "That was not smart. I wasn't thinking in that situation, I really wasn't. I wasn't thinking about who was hitting. I got wrapped up in what I was doing instead of paying attention to the game.

"I should not have done that in that situation."

Gose also knew that Norris was timed at 1.5 seconds to home plate. He could have stolen third conventionally if he had to.

"I don't want him not to think he can steal a base," Ausmus said. "But I don't know if that's the way to do it. If you are going to run with the heart of our lineup coming up, especially if you are going to steal third, you better be 99 percent sure you're going to make it."

It may be the only mistake Gose has made this spring. With his double off Norris (just his second off a left-hander this spring), Gose is 8 for 13 with 11 total bases, four RBIs and three steals.

Anibal Sanchez made his second start of the spring, and it was a workout. After an easy 13-pitch first inning, he labored through a 33-pitch second. He gave up a run on a double by Caleb Gindl and a single by former Tiger Ramon Santiago.

The Blue Jays loaded the bases, but Sanchez ended the inning striking out another former Tiger, Ezequiel Carrera.

"Today I was just working on my location and building my arm," Sanchez said. "Today the only thing I feel, I was a little bit up. That was my only concern today. But I have a lot of time to get ready for the season."

Sanchez went back out for the third, but was removed after Jose Bautista drove a laser shot onto the berm in left field. Sanchez threw 55 pitches, 40 of them strikes.

"After I finished the second, they told me I would only throw 15 or 10 more," he said. "I agree with that."

Sanchez said he plans to go four innings or 75 pitches in his next start.

After Kyle Ryan got five outs with no damage, Joe Nathan pitched his second straight quick, scoreless inning. The highlight was his battle with Bautista, who has hit Nathan hard over the years.

"He's one of the best, so any time you get a chance to face him, whether it's a spring game or the ninth inning in the regular season, he's a tough out," Nathan said. "He's one of the guys who gives me fits."

It was a battle. Nathan seemed to strike him out on a nasty, 2-2 curveball, but he didn't get the call. Bautista worked the count to 3-2, but got out in front of another curve and flied out harmlessly to left.

"The 2-2 pitched looked pretty good," Sanchez said, "but to come back on the 3-2 pitch and get him out on his front foot, that felt good."

Reliever Alex Wilson gave up two runs in the top of the seventh, but the Tigers rallied right back. A two-run single by Wynton Bernard and an RBI single by Daniel Fields put them up 6-4.