CLEVELAND -- A lot can change in five years. Including a player's position.
Anthony Gose has returned to the big leagues for the first time since May of 2016. Back then, he was a speedy center fielder. Now, he's a left-handed reliever with a speedy fastball, and Cleveland selected his contract from Triple-A Columbus prior to Monday's doubleheader with the Royals to bring the 40-man roster to 40. Right-hander J.C. Mejia filled the 29th roster spot for the doubleheader.
Gose made his pitching debut in relief in Cleveland's 4-2 loss to the Royals in Game 2. He featured a 100 mph-plus fastball, yielding one run on one hit with one walk and a strikeout.
The 31-year-old Gose began to make his full-time conversion to pitching when he didn't make the Tigers' Opening Day roster in 2017. Over the course of the last five seasons, he's pitched in the Minor League systems of Detroit, Texas and Cleveland. With Columbus this year, he was 6-1 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in 33 innings over 28 appearances.
Cleveland wanted to be careful in picking the right time to add Gose to the 40-man, as he is out of Minor League options.
"He's earned the right," acting manager DeMarlo Hale said.
Having been a bench coach in Toronto during Gose's time there, Hale knew the old Gose -- an athletic, highly regarded outfield prospect who had been dealt from the Phillies to the Astros, then to the Blue Jays as part of a trade for Roy Oswalt. Gose was later dealt from the Blue Jays to the Tigers in a straight-up trade for Devon Travis, but his big league career in the outfield role lasted just 202 games with the Blue Jays and Tigers. He hit .234 with a .656 OPS, then switched to pitching as a means of salvaging his career.
"There was always a joke that, 'Yeah, I can pitch,'" Hale recalled. "And he pitched before he signed as an outfielder. He's always had a good arm and is a good outfielder as well. I think as talented and as athletic as he is, being a position payer wasn't happening. … I just think it's good that he wanted to keep his dream alive and make a decision to try to pitch with his arm. It's worked out."
Gose's fastball reaches the upper 90s and has touched 100 mph. He also throws a slider with good deception. Harnessing his high-powered arsenal has been an issue. With Columbus, he was walking 7.6 batters per nine innings. But in striking out 13.4 per nine and in allowing just one run in 14 innings since returning to Columbus from the U.S. Olympic team, Gose was deemed worthy of a long-awaited look at the big-league level.
Bieber possibly nearing return
A decision had not been made as of Monday afternoon, but Cleveland was considering having Shane Bieber make his next start in the big leagues.
Bieber, recovering from a right shoulder strain, made his second rehab start with Double-A Akron on Sunday, allowing three runs on three hits with a walk while striking out four in 3 1/3 innings.
"I know he came out feeling pretty good from his rehab game," Hale said. "So we'll sit down and kind of map out his next day to pitch, whether that will be at the Major Leagues or another rehab start."
Bieber, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner who last pitched for Cleveland on June 13 and has a 7-4 record and 3.28 ERA in 14 starts this season, told reporters that getting back to the bigs -- even at this late stage of the season -- is important to him.
"There's a number of reasons I've been working towards this," he said. "I've always liked to keep things simple. This is my job. I love to do it. If I can't because I'm on the IL, I'll work twice as hard to come off and be better."