Thursday, April 8, 2010
Anderson gets rare start in right
By Tony Jackson
PITTSBURGH -- Garret Anderson saw his name on the Los Angeles Dodgers' lineup card Thursday morning, saw the letters "R'' and "F'' next to it and shrugged. After all, who really cared if he was about to start a game in right field for the first time in a decade?
"Left is a lot harder,'' said Anderson, who filled for injured Andre Ethier. "A lot of the game is played out there because there are a lot more right-handed hitters. When a right-handed hitter hits the ball to right field, there is always some loft under it, so that makes it easier.''
Anderson's bat was the focus on Thursday. He had an RBI single in the seventh and a sacrifice fly in the ninth as the Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-2 for their first win of the year.
Anderson actually played an inning in right in Monday's season opener after pinch hitting in the top of the eighth. There was one fly ball hit his way, and he handled it flawlessly for the final defensive out of a lopsided loss to the Pirates. He also played a game there during spring training, on March 31 against San Francisco, catching two fly balls in his five innings and also throwing to second for a force out on Eugenio Velez, who was caught in a moment of indecision when a ball hit by Nate Schierholtz fell in shallow right.
"It felt fine,'' Anderson said. "It didn't feel weird or anything.''
Anderson has appeared in right field in 155 games during his career, starting 146 of them. Until Monday, though, he hadn't played a regular-season game at the position since 2000. He actually played there primarily in 1998, when he made 119 of those starts at a time when the Angels had Darin Erstad in left.
Anderson's rare start in right field was part of a dramatic -- and apparently one-day -- overhaul of the lineup by manager Joe Torre following a four-hour night game on Wednesday.
At one point Thursday morning, Torre walked by a pack of reporters gathered around the Dodgers' lineup card, which was posted on the wall, and said, "That's a split squad. Do you know where the rest of the team is playing?''
It definitely had the look of a spring training lineup, with catcher Russell Martin, second baseman Blake DeWitt, third baseman Casey Blake, left fielder Manny Ramirez and Ethier all sitting. Paul Maholm, a tough lefty, was slated to start for the Pirates, which would explain why DeWitt wasn't playing, and Ethier injured his ankle in Wednesday's game. But left-handed-hitting first baseman James Loney was in the lineup.
Also in the lineup were Brad Ausmus at catcher, Jamey Carroll at second, Ronnie Belliard at third and Reed Johnson in left.
So what would happen if the Dodgers, after losing their first two games of the season, won with this lineup on Thursday afternoon?
"Then it's open season,'' Torre said to the writers. "You can rip my head off when I go back to the regular lineup tomorrow.''
Kuo has positive mound session
Left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo said he felt good during a mound session in which he threw 20-25 pitches, including breaking balls. Kuo is on the 15-day disabled list with elbow soreness and is eligible to return as early as Saturday, but he'll probably need at least one more mound session before he is cleared. He probably won't be sent on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment, although that option is available.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.