Buck Showalter hasn’t seen many faster ballplayers than Terrance Gore. In fact, the only name that could come to mind when asked about it prior to the Mets’ series opener against the Washington Nationals on Friday was NFL Hall-of-Fame cornerback and former-Yankee Deion Sanders.
“He’s a weapon,” Showalter said of his new base-stealing extraordinaire. “Probably the closest I’d compare it to was Deion… He was a guy who just outran the baseball. The first time I saw him, that was a different level of footspeed that I had ever seen. He would take off after the ball was halfway to the plate and would just outrun it the last half a second. The acceleration, I had never seen anyone run like that in my life.”
The Mets’ newest weapon got his call to return to the majors on Wednesday, continuing what is one of the most unlikely yet specialized careers in MLB history.
Gore has appeared in just 103 regular-season games over the last nine years — accruing 67 at-bats and 41 stolen bases — along with another 10 in the postseason. He’s had just two plate appearances in the playoffs but has stolen five bags in the process, using his speed to earn World Series rings with the Kansas City Royals in 2015 and the Atlanta Braves last season.
Now in New York, the 31-year-old is getting his first taste of regular-season action since 2020 with the Los Angeles Dodgers — another team that won a title the same year they utilized Gore, though he did not appear in the playoffs for them — after getting signed to a minor-league deal by the Mets back in June.
“My agent called me I would say May, June-ish, and said the Mets want you to go down [to Florida] and get ready to play some games. I didn’t hesitate at all,” Gore told amNewYork. “I already knew the Mets were a really good team and I knew that they had a pretty dang good shot at getting to the postseason so there wasn’t a hesitation at all about what team I wanted to go to. They were the first ones to call and I said I’m in that for sure, sign me up.”
After nearly three months in the minors, he didn’t wait long to take advantage of his first opportunity. With a 5-3 lead in the eighth inning of Thursday’s series finale against the Dodgers, he was called upon to pinch run for Daniel Vogelbach, who had walked. On the first pitch delivered to the next batter, Mark Canha, Gore was off — executing a perfect foot-first, pop-up slide into second to beat the throw from Will Smith.
“I was talking to Buck and a couple of guys and telling them that it was good to get that first one out of the way,” Gore said. “I didn’t want to go out there and do something bad and get thrown out and they’d be like ‘that guy stinks.’ So it was good to get that monkey off my back.”
Terrance Gore steals a bag in his first appearance as a Met! pic.twitter.com/ctgYQQO4Nj
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 1, 2022
It was also a clear indication that the Mets, who are tied for the eighth-fewest stolen bases in the game, are going to take advantage of this influx of speed that will only accentuate an offense that plays as close a brand of small ball as you’ll find in today’s major leagues.
Sure, Gore’s job might seem one-dimensional to the average viewer, but there’s a science that has made him this base-stealing mercenary that has built a nearly decade-long career in the majors.
“I asked our guy in Triple-A and he said that everything that guy does is to get ready for that opportunity,” Showalter said. “Think about it. You take care of this tool, you can do it real well, and he’s been doing this for quite a while. It’s obvious that he takes a lot of pride in it. He knows what he has to do to maintain that footspeed. He’s preparing for that one burst, maybe two bursts. It’s pretty cool.”
That includes Gore spending roughly an hour and a half each day studying film of opposing pitchers to nail down their timing and commit their motion to memory to ensure he can get the best jump possible. The better the recognition is, the better his chances of sliding in safely are, regardless of everyone in the ballpark knowing what he’s about to do.
After all, that’s what he’s here for.
“It’s a lot of work, actually. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I just go out there and just run” Gore said. “Everything I do, I do it with a purpose. I’ve acknowledged my role, I know what I’m here to do, and I try to perfect it to the fullest. I’ve been doing this for a long time but still, coming to a new organization, coming to a new team, my name is already out there so people know exactly what I’m there for and what I’m doing. It’s no surprise to see what’s going on.”