Robert and I caught up with Gabe Gross when we were in Buffalo last week. We had a very enjoyable conversation as Gabe was very accomodating and actually looked happy to be answering our questions. We interviewed Gabe in a corridor outside the dressing room and the lighting was bad. Robert took an in-game picture, it's long distance, but it is the best we could get. The Chiefs did not take batting practice the day we were there.
Many of you have wondered about the status of Gabe's arm troubles. Since we visited him in Buffalo Gross has started in left field, but last week he was still a DH. So the first question we asked was about his elbow: It is coming. I have been on a three week throwing program for about two and a half weeks now. I just have a little bit left of it. Hopefully, with things going well in the last couple of days, I will be able to play in the outfield soon. If for some reason it starts flaring up again then I don't know if the Blue Jays will want me to keep going or have surgery. Hopefully I won't have to worry about that.
We inquired if Gabe's injury affected his swing. No. Right after it happened, I did not know if I could swing or not. I had not told anyone and I went to the plate just hoping it was not going to kill me and I cut lose on the second or third pitch and there was no pain and there has been no pain.
Had it been frustrating for Gabe to be unable to play the outfield while there has been an injury shuttle going up to Toronto? It is tough but at the same time you have to do a job here, you come to the ballpark every day, get into and routine and just play play ball. It has been tough because there have been a lot of injuries and if I was healthy and you just think what if. You just have to steer your mind away from that and come to the ballpark every day with a job to do and just do it.
As with many of his teammates Gabe had a slow start to the season. It was just a little bit of everything, April is pretty cold, not much of baseball weather but the more at-bats I got the more settled in everything came and hits started falling into place.
Gabe was a two sport player in college, at least for a while. We wondered how long. Yes, I played football my freshman and part way through my sophomore year. I stopped after I think three games in my sophomore year to concentrate on baseball. I started six or seven games my freshman year for Auburn. Terry Bowden (the head coach) resigned halfway through my freshman year and a new regime came in. The new coach did not recruit me, or know me, or about me wanting to play baseball and football. It was tough I love football, I love baseball too. If I dropped baseball to play football I would miss baseball too. I never second-guessed myself and I am very happy with where I am and what I have done.
We wondered if Gabe got much grief from the football fans on campus in Alabama but that was not a problem. No I had a really good freshman year of baseball and a lot of people I know really encouraged me with the decision I made. Football is something I really enjoyed but I knew my future was in baseball. Gross did indeed have a good first year of baseball, a .363 average with more walks than strikeouts and 23 doubles is a great year. Gabe went on to hit .430 the next year with higher walk and power numbers.
We asked how was spring training this year? I got more out of it than I did my first year when I was there after I just got drafted. I had about a month and a half of baseball under my belt the first time and I was just there and I did not really know what was going on. Now I have more experience and learned more from the guys. We have a pretty awesome big league club in terms of guys being friendly and nice. Carlos is the leader of that team, and a leader in terms of guys being friendly to you. It was not a case of guys with ten years experience not talking to you. They were all very friendly and nice.
We asked if he had played with another fan favourite Reed Johnson: Our paths crossed for about a week and a half, I got called up to AA my first year and he was there, and of course I see him in spring training every year, he is a competitor and gets the most out of what he does.
We asked if the Jays had requested Gabe to work on anything in particular. It is no secret the approach JP and his philosophy brought in to Toronto. That was good for me in that was my approach too. I always had a good OBP, I think with time my power numbers will come around more than they have. I feel like I have driven the ball pretty well this year. They have never asked me to work on anything. When we mentioned the baseball standard that doubles in the minors become home runs in the majors Gabe had a simple response: I am hopeful.
Gabe has played 82 games for the Skychiefs this year. In just under 300 at-bats Gabe has a .296 batting average. His OBP is .374 and his SLG is .461. Since that slow April Gabe has been hitting over .300, with a OBP over .400 and a SLG over .500.