Monday, December 1, 2008

Here's the pitch: Keep Anderson

Brian Anderson said it was like clockwork. Matt Garza would show up for a few innings. Then Scott Kazmir.

Then Andy Sonnanstine.

Then Edwin Jackson.

The Rays pitchers made their way to the clubhouse on nights when they weren’t pitching and spent a few innings watching the game with Anderson, who serves as the assistant to pitching coach Jim Hickey.

There, the pitchers would pick the brain of a pitcher who, as recently as spring training, was one of them.

Anderson arrived in St. Petersburg last February hoping his left elbow had enough life for another season. His work early in camp was along the lines of a rehab, but it was soon accelerated and Anderson found himself pitching in games.

And then the elbow gave out again and the left-hander who was a member of the 2001 World Series champion Diamondbacks, called it a career.

Rays manager Joe Maddon wanted Anderson around and offered him the job as Hickey’s assistant so Anderson could still work with the pitchers.

Judging by how well the Rays pitched this past season I’d say it was a good move.

“We just talk,” Garza said last May. “We talk about what’s going on in the game, my last outing, my next outing, things I can do better. I kind of pick his brains.”

“He was huge,” Kazmir said.

Now, the Rays are looking for a TV analyst to replace Joe Magrane, who is headed to the MLB Network, and Anderson’s name is mentioned among the candidates. Anderson filled in when Magrane left the TV booth in August to help with NBC’s coverage of the Olympic baseball games.

It might be a good idea to take a long look at Anderson.

For one, he was pretty good on the air.

Two, he can still work with the Rays pitchers. Maybe not in the middle of games. It’s unlikely anyone would want to make the climb to the TV booth.

But Anderson can chat with the pitchers before and after games as well as on long flights and over lunch on road trips.

The pitches sang Anderson’s praises last season.

The pitching is what helped carry the Rays to the World Series.

It might be a good idea to keep that combination together.

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