Anderson stays positive despite Gonzalez addition


Anderson stays positive despite Gonzalez addition

By SeanMcAdam

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Lars Anderson heard about the trade which brought Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres to the Red Sox last December, he felt some sadness.

Not, however, for the reason you may think.

To obtain Gonzalez, the Red Sox had to part with, among others, Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo, two of the organization's best projects, but also, two of Anderson's closest friends.

The notion that the Sox had just traded for a 28-year-old first baseman whom they expect to soon extend for another seven seasons, wasn't the problem for Anderson that you might think.

"There were two ways to look at it,'' said Anderson. "One of them would be that I'm totally blocked here by an All-Star player at the same position and my future is grim for me personally. Or, there's the other option, which is more positive and more constructive, is we're getting a great player who's going to help everybody out and anchor this lineup and be a force defensively.

"And for me personally, I get to watch one of the best in game work every day. So that's what I'm going with. That's a lot better for everyone to consider.''

Finally, Anderson noted that with Kevin Youkilis -- a Gold Glove-winner with the second-best OPS in the game across the last three seasons -- he was already blocked at first. Adding Gonzalez, in his mind, changes nothing.

"It wasn't like there was some clear-cut freeway to the big leagues for me before the Gonzalez deal was made,'' Anderson said. "And with a team like this, it's hard for a young guy to crack it sometimes. That's not necessarily a bad thing.''

It wasn't long ago that Anderson, selected in the 18th round of the 2006 draft, was considered Boston's top prospect. But that was before he seemed to regress in 2009, his first full season at Double A, when he hit just .233.

It wasn't long before Rizzo, also a first baseman, eclipsed him within the organization. Anderson rebounded somewhat last year, hitting .355 in the first month at Portland before graduating to Pawtucket, where he hit .262 and added 10 homers and 53 RBI in 113 games.

Ironically, just as Gonzalez's arrival seemed to suggest a closing of a door for Anderson within the organization, the new slugger's surgically repaired right shoulder has had the affect of providing Anderson with more playing time at first. Gonzalez isn't likely to play in a Grapefruit League game until mid-March.

In the meantime, this is another opportunity for Anderson to showcase his skills -- both to the Red Sox and any other club which may be watching.

"It's nice to play, get some playing time and make an impression,'' he said.

Anderson helped himself with a homer Sunday night in the spring opener, and at least twice since, Terry Francona has mentioned it.

"We saw him take some nice swings last September when Anderson earned a late-season callup, some line drives,'' said Francona. "But if you're a corner infielder or outfielder you've got to make some noise with your bat and to see him do that is exciting.''

But such suggestions almost rankle Anderson, who isn't sure he's necessarily going to be the power hitter some forecast.

"That's what everybody else has always said,'' he said. "I hit a lot of home runs in high school, but I was hitting against guys throwing 80 mph and swinging an aluminum bat. I never thought of myself as a power hitter. Maybe I am. But I always thought of myself as a hitter who can drive the ball and do some damage. But I never thought myself in that classic sense of a Mark McGwire-type power hitter.

"Everybody learns how to drive the ball more as they get holder. You learn how to repeat that swing that's going to put backspin on the ball and give it some more carry.

One thing Anderson won't stew about is his future place in the organization.

"I think the mind is always curious about what the future holds,'' he said. "But it doesn't really serve any purpose to get caught up in that.''

Anderson learned the hard way in 2009 not to obsess too much about any one aspect of the game. That was his most challenging season, made worse by Anderson being unable to forget a poor game or a first-inning at-bat that didn't go as planned.

Finally, he learned to live in the here and now.

"I realized how important being in the present is,'' he said. "When you get caught up in past or future stuff on a baseball field, the ball finds you, an at-bat finds you and catches you and you're not where you need to be.

"If you can be present, those bad at-bats in the first inning don't bother you and the whatever in the future isn't tripping you isn't bothering you because it's not real.''

Francona, too, seems to take the same big-picture view.

"I think he's in a good place,''said the manager. "He knows that, regardless of who we have here, if he goes to Triple A and puts up his numbers, he'll be fine. We tell everybody: it might not be on your timetable, but if you can play, there will be a spot in the big leagues for you.

"You don't see too many guys at Triple A who don't get to the big leagues. Things have a way of working out.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.