This will likely be the first and the last time we blog about Matt Anderson this year, but I am a sucker for comeback stories so it’s worth a mention. The Phillies signed him. Minor league deal, of course.
For those who are blanking, Anderson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft, selected by the Tigers. Once upon a time he could throw the ball 100 miles per hour. The Tigers rushed him up the ladder in 1998, but it was mostly OK: he embarrassed Single-A and Double-A hitters that summer, and struck out a batter an inning during his major league callup that year. After starting the 1999 season in Toledo, he stuck with the big club as a reliever through the 2003 season, though he was hurt much of the time those last couple of years.
The circumstances of his most famous injury — a torn muscle in his armpit in 2002 — remain clouded. It was widely reported at the time that he hurt himself during an octopus-throwing contest at Comerica Park. Really. It’s a Red Wings thing, for those who don’t know. The team and Anderson denied it at the time, but there never was a truly satisfactory answer for how he got that particular injury at that particular time.
But no matter what caused the injury, after that: wildnerness. Shoulder trouble. Years missed. Independent league ball. He last saw major league action in a 12-game stint with the Rockies in 2005. He last pitched organized ball in 2008 in the White Sox system. He’s 34 now. What the Phillies plan on doing with him I have no idea.
But we all love comebacks. At least when they begin. Sadly, they almost never end well. Good luck all the same to you, Matt Anderson.
Despite dealing with back trouble for five years, Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers recently made his first ever trip to the disabled list. Then he made another trip there. All of it has him contemplating his future. As he tells Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, his baseball future may be a short one if his health doesn’t improve:
“I want to get back this year to help the team and for me to be healthy,” Gonzalez said. “But I’m thinking more long-term about being able to play more years.
“Because if I have to deal with this next year again? That’ll probably be it. My contract will be over, that’ll probably be it. I won’t play any more. If I can heal it and my body feels good? Now I can go out there and do the things I can do. Then I’ll keep playing.”
Backs are one of those things that don’t get better as you get older. At least not without a lot of work and effort and good luck. Gonzalez is 35 now, so he’ll need all of that to keep playing beyond his current deal.
Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.
Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.
The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.