Blogs > Minor Matters

Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Anderson new path brings him to Trenton

TRENTON — Over the last four seasons, Trenton has seen its share of outfielders who, after failing to hack it with the lumber, have tried their hand on the hill.

Mike Dunn, now a set-up man with the Marlins, pitched with the Thunder in 2008 and 2009. Wilkin De La Rosa, currently in the Dodgers system, did the same over the last two Eastern League campaigns, and had enough fans in the organization that he was part of New York’s 40-man roster until late 2010.

This season Trenton welcomes a new convert, Brian Anderson, who, unlike Dunn and De La Rosa, had a considerable amount of success in the batter’s box.

So, if he’d made it to the big leagues in his original incarnation, why make the switch?

“It just boiled down to me just being unhappy,” he explained. “The bottom line is: If you’re showing up at your job unhappy, you should get a different job. I knew I loved the game of baseball, and I knew I loved to pitch, so I thought, why not give it a shot? You only live once.”

Unhappy as he may have been, Anderson still managed to carve out a five-season big league career for himself, with a .227/.290/.370 batting line and 22 career longballs.

Coincidentally, two of his home runs came against former Thunder pitchers. One was Jeff Karstens. The other was Ron Mahay, whose career path after he put down the bat should be one Anderson tries to emulate.

Mahay, a 14-season major league veteran, started his Thunder career, in 1995, as a hitter, and ended it two years later as a hurler. He made his big league debut with the Red Sox that same season, and put together a 3-0 record with 2.52 ERA in 27 games out of Boston’s bullpen.

After pitching in the Royals’ system last year, Anderson began this year in extended spring training with the Yankees before making his 2011 debut on Thursday night.

Sporting a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a respectable breaking pitch, Anderson threw one inning and retired the side in order.

Even with the circuitous and winding road he has taken to Waterfront Park, pitching coach Tommy Phelps says Anderson comes with no special instructions on his days to pitch.

“Just go out and let him get some innings,” Phelps explained. “He’ll probably only pitch one to two innings at a time, and some back-to-back days, but he doesn’t have a lot of innings under his belt.”

Anderson realizes that, unlike Dunn, De La Rosa and Mahay, his transition has come at a very late point in his career, and the chance for success is both slim and fleeting.

Still, he pitched in high school and with the University of Arizona, and the fire to compete is still there. So, until he proves he can’t do it anymore, he’ll try to claw his way back to the top.

“No time is the perfect time to make that choice that late in your career,” he admitted. “I just turned 29. I hope I can bang this out as long as I can, hopefully six or seven more years.

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