Athletics: Brainerd’s Anderson proves rookie year was no fluke

It took Nick Anderson a few years to find his spot on a Major League Baseball roster, but once he did he's made the most of it. The Brainerd High School graduate talked about this past season and how he will prepare for next year.

Nick Anderson of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches in Game 4 of the World Series Oct. 24 in Arlington, Texas. Will Vragovic / Tampa Bay Rays

Nick Anderson was viewed by many as the top reliever in all of Major League Baseball.

The Tampa Bay Rays righty was almost unhittable during the regular season and was a key part in Tampa’s trip to this year’s World Series.

After the season, Anderson took time to reflect on the season and his future in the big leagues.

Q: Let’s start with the regular season. You went 2-1 with six saves and six holds. You appeared in 19 games and pitched 16.1 innings giving up just one earned run on five hits, three walks and struck out 26. You held a 0.55 ERA and opponents hit just .091 against you. Of those numbers what’s your favorite stat?


NA: I wish I could tell you what stat is my favorite, but I don't pay attention to the numbers. Helping the team win in whatever way possible is the only thing I really care about.

Q: How confident were you during the season?

NA: My confidence level was the same as any other year.

Brainerd High School graduate Nick Anderson gets congratulated in the Tampa Bay Rays dugout after pitching in Game 2 of the World Series Oct. 21 in Arlington, Texas. Will Vragovic / Tampa Bay Rays


Q: Heading into the season with COVID-19 shortening spring training and delaying the start of the season, how did you get ready?

NA: I did most of my prep work at a parking lot across the road from where I lived and a park about a mile away. I would do sprints and agility stuff in the parking lot and at the park and all my throwing was done at the park. There were a few softball fields at the park and one of them had a net above the outfield fence that I would throw in to and be able to get some long toss work. And then, any workouts I did were in my garage and just bodyweight circuits.

Q: How different were your preparations for the start of the season?

NA: The biggest difference in preparing for this past season was not being able to lift any weights. You can do a million sprints or any kind of exercise, but you need to add load or stress on those muscles with extra weight if you want to really see an improvement or at least maintain the physical shape you are in.


Q: How much difference did a year make? You were pretty phenomenal as a rookie, but you were unhittable this regular season. How much of a benefit was a year of experience or were there other factors for your success?

NA: I guess having a good rookie year helped. I really try not to think like that though. It's the big leagues, everybody is crazy good and I know you can be humbled very quickly in this game. I just try to have the same mindset every time I have a ball in my hand.

RELATED: MLB: Anderson watch
Q: The season was shortened and packed in. Did you mind the different format and new rules like a runner on second to start extra innings and universal designated hitter?

NA: The universal DH doesn't bother me. I don't really understand the reason for having a runner on second in extra's...the game of baseball has been around forever, why change the way it is played?

RELATED: MLB: Anderson watch
Q: Of the new rules do you think any will stick if the seasons go back to normal?


NA: The designated hitter might stick.

Q: Postseason play. Tell me how much more tension, adrenaline, pressure is ramped up in the postseason?

NA: There is more adrenaline in the postseason for sure, but I couldn't give you a percentage of how much more. I love the adrenaline so I just soak it in and try to go out there and have some fun.

Q: Compared to the regular season, you struggled in the postseason. Your thoughts on why?

RELATED: MLB: Anderson Watch
NA: This season was just weird. I kind of felt like I was in a video game or something. It's a little hard to explain, but with our job we are so used to having certain freedom's and at the end of the season we all had to go into a "bubble." At first, it didn't seem like too big of a deal, but I know everybody was exhausted. The game is already so mental and then you add in being locked down and having a bunch of restrictions on what you can do is tough. I was talking to a friend a couple weeks ago and found out that the NHL guys weren't allowed to bring their families into their bubble. That's insane.


Q: You were quoted as saying: “Obviously I’ll take heat for not holding up my end on this playoff stretch, but it wasn’t anything to do with effort,” Anderson said. “I was just going out there, laying it on the line every time and just fell a little short. I don’t want to turn the page too quickly, but come in ready next year.”

What do you take from this postseason? How do you get better and ready for next year?

NA: I'm not going to do anything different than last off-season. We had a good year and a playoff run. Taking some time after the season to enjoy the freedom and get back to work getting ready for 2021.

Q: How do you put Game 6 of the World Series behind you and move forward? What’s the process you’re going to take?


NA: It's baseball, sometimes things just don't go your way, ya know? You obviously hope that they aren't in big situations but what can you do? You can't let that deter you from putting in the same work or having the same mindset. Get up there on the mound, compete and give it your all every time.

RELATED: MLB: Anderson watch
Q: Finally, what was it like pitching in the World Series. You’re the first Brainerd graduate to do it? I realize you didn’t get the full experience as the number of fans was limited and all the games were played in Arlington, Texas, but still?

NA: Man, it was a lot of fun. I wish everything would have been normal, but it was still a great experience. We'll see what happens this next year, maybe be back there.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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