Blast from the past: the Phillies sign Matt Anderson

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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.