Anderson stays positive despite Gonzalez addition

Anderson stays positive despite Gonzalez addition
March 2, 2011, 11:30 pm
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By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

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 smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam