If you haven’t attended many PawSox games this year or watched the team on the internet, you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that Lars Anderson has hit into extraordinarily rotten luck.
Nobody on the team has hit more Atom Balls (as in “right at ‘em”) than the 23-year-old first baseman.
“A few days ago after a tough game, I cursed the baseball gods and Ryan Kalish and my good friend Paul Hoover witnessed it,” Lars told me with a laugh. “Paul looked up toward the sky and said, ‘No, he doesn’t mean that.’ I proceeded to line out about six times in six at-bats. So after that game, I knelt on the ground and said, ‘I take it back!’”
(Photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Apparently the baseball gods were appeased. On Wednesday night in Columbus in his 128th at-bat of the year, Anderson finally hit his first home run. Two at-bats later, he crushed his second (here is video).
“It was nice,” Anderson said. “My dad sent me an e-mail saying, ‘How does it feel to no longer have that huge monkey on your back?’ I was surprised by the first home run because I didn’t hit it all that great, but we were tied at the time so it was a nice boost for myself and a nice boost for the team. I knew the second one was gone and it felt equally nice.”
“It was nice to see him hit the first one to the opposite field because that validates that he can drive the ball that way,” said PawSox hitting coach Chili Davis. “Then in the next game, he turns on one and hits a monster bomb. The thing that I want him to continue to do is keep hitting line drives. He’s got a great swing – I love his swing – and he’s very disciplined at the plate which is key.”
Through 38 games, Anderson has a decent batting average at .273 and an excellent OBP at .405. He is tied for the league lead in walks (29) with Cord Phelps of Columbus. But Lars has mostly hit line drives and ground balls, minimizing his opportunities for home runs.
“He’s just not getting the trajectory that he wants,” Davis said. “It’s something that you can work on and we’ve worked on his swing path a little bit, but in doing that, I don’t want him to become lift conscious. Stay on the ball and drive through it and when you hit it in the air, you can hit it out of any part of the ballpark.”
“I’ve lamented a few times about not driving the ball in the air more often, but at the same time, if I think about the last two or three weeks, I’ve felt as good as I ever remember feeling at the plate,” Anderson said. “There’s a fine line between wanting to improve and continuing to do what you’re doing. Obviously you always want to improve, but the question is, do I change something or do I stay with the path that I’m on? I’m going to stick with what I’m doing because I feel pretty good at the plate and whether I hit 2 home runs in that game or not, I think I would be doing the same thing.”
“I’ve been telling him, ‘You’re hitting the ball hard, you’re patient at the plate, you’re hitting left-handers as well as right-handers…the numbers aren’t showing how hard you’re hitting the ball,’” Davis said. “He’s hit into some hard luck. I hit a few home runs in my career (350) and I keep telling him that they come in bunches.”
Anderson’s first two homers came just in time for his good buddy Ryan Kalish to be the first person to greet him in the dugout. Kalish left Columbus the following morning for Ft. Myers to intensify the rehab program on his injured left shoulder.
“He was pretty excited about my success which was cool,” Anderson said. “He turned into quite the cheerleader and was pretty rowdy in the dugout – I’m going to miss that.
“I said goodbye to him today and hopefully he’ll be back soon. We’re all pretty encouraged with his progress and it would be nice if he can rehab it and get back to where he was without having surgery. He deserves it.”
A little prayer to the baseball gods probably wouldn’t hurt.
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The PawSox and Columbus Clippers managed to get in 3 ½ innings on Thursday night before being suspended by rain. Pawtucket took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Josh Reddick’s team-leading 11th home run, but the Clippers answered in the bottom of the inning when the first two batters – Jason Kipnis and Cord Phelps – homered off of Brandon Duckworth.
The game will be resumed on Friday at 5:05 with Columbus leading 2-1 in the 4th. After that 9-inning game is completed, the regularly scheduled game will be 7 innings.
I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 4:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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