Weird science: Gosling makes rotation bid

Left-hander could be fourth southpaw in Reds rotation

Michael Gosling (Al Behrman/AP)

By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | March 17, 2006 11:00 AM

SARASOTA, Fla. -- When the Diamondbacks signed second-round draft pick Michael Gosling out of Stanford University in 2001, the nation gained another talented left-handed pitcher -- but lost a potential doctor.

Gosling left school a quarter early to turn pro, but eventually earned his degree in human biology.

"I hope to play long enough that I don't have to put it to work if I don't want to," Gosling said. "I just liked the classes I got to take for that major. I thought it was interesting stuff."

Part of the course load was classes in anatomy and physiology.

"It was kind of applicable to baseball and I figured I'd try to play baseball as long as I can and figure out what I want to do after that," said Gosling, who was also a 14th-round pick of the Twins in 1998 before opting instead to attend college.

Now that Gosling is with the Reds, it doesn't take much dissecting to gauge the 25-year-old's chances in Spring Training. If he makes the club, it would be as a contingency fifth starter if veteran Paul Wilson isn't ready to begin the season. Otherwise, he's likely destined for Triple-A. Justin Germano is also vying for the fifth spot.

If Gosling gets the job, he would be the fourth lefty in a starting five that already has Brandon Claussen, Eric Milton and Dave Williams. Manager Jerry Narron doesn't view a heavily left-leaning rotation as being a problem.

"It does not matter," Narron said. "I'm looking for a guy who has the best chance to get the most people out."

Somewhat ironically, medical science will play a factor in the ultimate outcome. Wilson is rehabilitating from right shoulder surgery and has been limited to bullpen sessions and live batting practice this spring. There would need to be no health setbacks over the next two weeks for him, and not Gosling or Germano, to pitch for Cincinnati in April.

"My mindset is that there's a spot available," Gosling said. "That's nothing against Paul. I want him to get healthy and everybody wants him to be healthy. I have to take the attitude out there that there's a spot available and do my best to prove to Jerry and [general manager Wayne Krivsky] that I'm one of their five best options as a starting pitcher."

Gosling has made a solid bid to prove that this spring with two decent starts. That was before he was roughed up working in relief Tuesday against Boston. His line was four runs, four hits and four walks over one-third of an inning.

"One thing we've been pleased with in his outings has been his command," Narron said. "The other day, he didn't really have it. I think he had five days off, which may not have helped him."

Overall, Gosling is 1-0 with a 5.68 ERA in 6 1/3 innings. His next audition comes Saturday against the Pirates at Bradenton.

Gosling's future appeared quite bright for the Diamondbacks after his first pro season in 2002. He went 14-5 with a 3.13 ERA for Double-A El Paso and was already in Triple-A by 2003. A detour came when he finished the season on the operating table with a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his shoulder.

His shoulder recovered fully while his numbers never quite caught up. He had a 5.82 ERA in 2004 but still earned a September callup to the Majors. He made Arizona's club out of spring last season but bounced back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors. He was 0-3 with a 4.45 ERA in 13 games, including five starts, for the D-Backs and wound up finishing his 2005 season in the Minors.

Needing space on its 40-man roster, Arizona waived Gosling last month.

"I got the feeling they just felt they'd seen the best I could do, and I don't feel like they had," Gosling said. "I feel like I'm going to continue to get better and I could be a good Major League pitcher and a consistent Major League pitcher."

The Reds claimed Gosling just days before camp opened because of his reputation for throwing strikes and for having a deceptive throwing motion. Making the team would make a nice reversal of fortune for the lefty.

"[Krivsky] called me and told me I was one of his first couple of transactions," Gosling said. "I was pleased he saw my name on the wire and decided I was valuable enough to claim. Hopefully, it'll end up being a real good decision for him."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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