By Mike Harrington
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Another big group of players sent back to minor-league camp for the Buffalo Bisons today by the Toronto Blue Jays, and the headliner is fleet outfielder Anthony Gose.
Gose, 22, should be Buffalo's starting center fielder. He hit .267 in spring training with a homer, three RBIs and five stolen bases. His red flag is 16 strikeouts but he also drew 11 walks.
"He's got a chance to be really good," said Jays manager John Gibbons. "He just has to get his swing together, cut down on his strikeouts. That will be big for him. Defensively and on the bases, he's pretty dog-gone good right now. He's a 22-year-old kid probably where he needs to be. When he irons that bat out, who knows how good he can be?"
Gose hit .285-5-43 with 34 stolen bases last year in Las Vegas. He struggled in Toronto after Jose Bautista's season-ending injury (.223-1-11 with 15 steals in 56 games).
Also sent back to Buffalo were catcher Josh Thole, starting pitcher Dave Bush and reliever Brad Lincoln, a former No. 1 pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bush, 33, was originally drafted by the Jays in 2002 and has played 210 big-league games for three teams, twice winning 12 games for Milwaukee.
Thole, who has played parts of the last three years in Buffalo in the Mets chain, hit just .171 this spring and couldn't earn a spot on the basis of being R.A. Dickey's personal catcher. Gibbons said J.P. Arencibia did it well enough in the World Baseball Classic and that ex-Met Henry Blanco will be the backup.
The Blue Jays have also announced Dickey will pitch for the Bisons here Wednesday against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in his final tuneup of the spring. Dickey is slated to go five innings in the game at the Toronto minor-league complex. Dickey, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner, will start the Opening Night game for the Jays April 2 against Cleveland.