After trading for Adrian Gonzalez and agreeing in principle on a 7-year contract extension, the Boston Red Sox appear to have their starting first baseman through the year 2018.
Not exactly the best career development for PawSox first baseman Lars Anderson.
(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
“That’s the way the game works – especially with a team like the Red Sox,” Anderson told me. “If you can get a guy like Adrian Gonzalez you’d be a fool not to in my opinion.
“He’s one of the best players in the game and it makes total sense to me that they acquired him when they had the opportunity to. Barring some injury, I don’t think it really changes where I was going to start the season. It might change what happens during the season, but there’s really nothing I can do about it. Obviously, it’s not ideal for me personally, but it’s really good for the ballclub so that’s cool.”
The Red Sox sent another of their best minor league first baseman – Anthony Rizzo – to San Diego in the Gonzalez trade, and Anderson knows that he is a logical candidate to be included in a future deal.
“It feels kind of inevitable, you know?” Lars said. “How many guys get to stay with the same team for their whole life? That being said, if I get dealt at some point it’s going to be startling because of all the great connections that I’ve made over the last four years. But that’s another thing that I have no control over.”
It’s been an eventful off-season for the 23-year-old slugger. So far, Lars has spent 2 ½ weeks driving across the United States, taken a vacation to Puerto Rico with close pal Ryan Kalish, and even become friendly with his favorite author.
“His name is David James Duncan,” Anderson said. “He’s written some great novels that I really like. I talked to him while I was fishing on a river in Montana so that was really cool.”
Montana was one several states that Lars visited when he drove from Boston to California immediately after the season. The conversation with Duncan was the result of a fortunate coincidence.
“I was hanging out with my sister and her family in Virginia,” Anderson said. “They have friends that used to live in Montana and we were all eating dinner one night and talking about who everybody’s favorite author was. When I said, ‘David James Duncan,’ one of her friends said, ‘No way – we have a friend who is really good friends with him.’ David lives just outside of Missoula, Montana and I had planned a pilgrimage to go there and check it out because I love his work and wanted to see the area. So I e-mailed this friend of his to see if there was any way he could help me get in touch with David. I didn’t hear back from him for a long time, but the night before I was set to arrive in Missoula, he e-mailed me back and said, ‘Call me tomorrow and we’ll set something up.’ He gave me David’s number and told me to give him a call. So I called him and we chatted for an hour. It turns out he’s a big Red Sox fan.”
Anderson’s favorite book by Duncan is called The Brothers K.
“It has a lot to do with baseball – it’s a really fresh take on minor league baseball which I appreciated when I read it,” Lars said. “How many times do you read a book and you’re like, ‘I would love to ask this author how he or she thought of that.’ I got to do that. I was able to ask all of these questions that I had and it was really wild.”
Anderson is coming off a solid season between Portland and Pawtucket as he batted .274 (.349 OBP, .461 SLG) with 37 doubles, 3 triples, and 15 HR. That resulted in a September call-up and Lars went 7-for-35 (.200) in his first taste of major league action.
“It gave me a lot of confidence,” Anderson said. “I know that I can play there. Before you get there you always wonder, ‘Can I hang at the major league level?’ I think I can. The environment is a little bit different, but it’s the same game and I never really felt overmatched or overwhelmed. The only overwhelming part was trying to get people tickets to the away games in Oakland.”
That’s close to his home in Fair Oaks, CA where Lars has started to prepare for the 2011 season.
“I hit today and I’ve really been working hard in the gym,” Anderson told me. “I’ve been thinking about what I want to focus on this year but it feels a little forced right now to really concentrate on one thing. When I hit today, it was the most thought-free that I’ve been and it was by far the best that I’ve hit the ball. That’s something that I really tried to do last year – really get my mind out of the way and let my body do its thing. I know how to hit a fastball, but my mind wants to get in there and ask questions about how I’m doing it or why I’m swinging at a certain pitch.”
In other words, he’s trying not to think too much – whether it’s at the plate or when it comes to job opportunities in Boston.
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