INDIANAPOLIS – Phil Gosselin was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis for one main reason: his game needed to be fixed.
Three weeks and three days later, Gosselin is being promoted to rejoin the Pirates. His reset in the minor leagues is complete. Gift Ngoepe will be optioned back to Indianapolis, while Alen Hanson said he will not be traveling with the team on its upcoming road trip. Those two moves left a pair of spots open with the Pirates, which will be filled with the promotions of Gosselin and Max Moroff.
Gosselin hit .310/.337/.405 with Indianapolis. He had eight multi-hit games, including a pair of 3-hit games. That was enough for management to decide Gosselin could provide the Pirates with some much-needed bench help.
He was optioned to Indianapolis on May 8, hitting just .138/.167/.172 in 29 at-bats over 19 games with the Pirates. Nobody wants to be demoted, but Gosselin understood and agreed with the decision at the time. And he isn’t going to change that stance after seeing the end result.
“I’m excited,” Gosselin said in the Indianapolis clubhouse. “I was disappointed I got sent down, but I knew it had to happen. I wasn’t playing very well up there. I had to come down here, work hard and get myself back on track and I think I was able to accomplish that these past few weeks.”
Gosselin’s timing at the plate was off and he simply wasn’t producing in his utility role, a tough fix when you don’t get regular at-bats. So, a trip down to Triple-A was done with the intent of getting Gosselin back on track via one key component: regular at-bats.
“It was a timing thing,” Gosselin said. “The at-bats weren’t coming as consistently up (with the Pirates). I knew once I was able to get some consistent at-bats I would be able to find that rhythm again. I think I’ll be able to carry that forward even if I’m not necessarily playing every day. I think I’ll be able to keep that feeling now that I’ve got it back again. It’s the same feeling I had in spring.”
Gosselin was rushed getting back on his swing, not getting back all the way on his legs, which threw his timing off. He got plenty of opportunity to fix himself with Indianapolis, playing in 22 games during the past 23 days, which includes both games of two doubleheaders. He had one day off in that stretch, along with a day where the team did not have a game.
And then he was not in the lineup on Wednesday, which seemed reasonable since he had played a game for eight straight days. But then Max Moroff was a late scratch, 30 minutes prior to the first pitch. A short time later, news started to break about Ngoepe and Hanson.
At that point it appeared Gosselin might not be getting a day off for rest, but rather as a typical precautionary move for a player being promoted. A move confirmed after the Indians’ game.
“He’s playing really good baseball right now,” Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said. “I think he’s been playing really good baseball all-around. He’s not going to wow you, he’s not an earth-shattering type guy. But he’s done a really good job since he’s been here.”
Gosselin had to fix the timing on his swing as previously mentioned in a story from his first week with Indianapolis. He was rushed getting back, not getting back all the way on his legs and throwing his timing off.
After going 0-for-6 in his first two games, Gosselin hit .333 the remainder of his time in Indianapolis. And that includes an 0-for-8 streak in his last two games played here. He had a hit in 17 of the 18 games in between those 0-fer bookends.
He played entirely in the infield with Indianapolis, committing one error in those games. He played 10 games at second and six games each at shortstop and third base.
Gosselin’s role as a utility player and pinch-hitter isn’t an easy one, so when he started to struggle this season it was hard to get back on track. He played well in that role previously with Arizona, so the organizational hope is that Gosselin will once again regain that level of productivity. He produced well in Indianapolis and got on track offensively, now it’s just a matter of carrying that forward to the major leagues again.