MLB: Anderson has to wait to follow up stellar 2019 season
Coming off a rookie season in which he pitched four games in the 2019 Major League Baseball Playoffs for the Tampa Bay Rays, Brainerd Warriors graduate Nick Anderson will have to wait to get his second season in the big leagues started.
On March 12, MLB announced the cancelation of the rest of the spring training and at least a two-week delay of the start of the regular season. Two weeks from the originally scheduled Opening Day past Thursday, April 9, and there seems to be no starting point in sight until at least May.
Anderson is spending isolation in Florida trying to stay ready for when the MLB starts again.
“I’ve been trying to do some workouts out at home,” he said. “Been going to this local park where I live and have been throwing into a net. Just trying to keep the body moving a little bit and keep stretching at home.”
High School: Brainerd
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Role: Relief pitcher
2019 season stats: appeared in 68 games and posted a 5-4 record with a 3.32 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 65 innings.
Besides working out, Anderson has been keeping in touch with family and friends some of which still live in the Brainerd lakes area.
He said it wasn’t a surprise to him when the MLB shutdown.
“We kind of figured it was going to happen,” Anderson said. “It was definitely weird and a shock, something different that none of us have gone through — along with the whole world.”
The MLB has been floating ideas of playing the season in Arizona with all 30 teams, according to reports. They have also talked about playing doubleheaders. Anderson hasn’t heard anything different than the rumors. He wants to come back as soon as possible, but only if it’s safe.
“I don’t really keep up on social media and what not,” Anderson said. “But I think everyone wants to get back to playing baseball as soon as possible. In order to do that, a lot of things have to fall in place and I don’t know if the country wants to see us get back to playing if it’s under those circumstances or not. We all want to get back to playing, but the situation has to be right.”
On the field, Anderson’s rookie season turned heads. He started the season with the Miami Marlins after being traded there from the Minnesota Twins in Nov. of 2019.
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With the Marlins, Anderson appeared in 45 games and struck out 69 batters in 43 2/3 innings.
When the trade deadline came, Anderson was sent across the state to Tampa. A move that surprised him.
“Being a rookie and having three years of control and all the logistics, I didn’t think I was going anywhere,” Anderson said. “I thought I was going to be with the Marlins for awhile. It just goes to show you that’s how baseball is. Thankfully it was nice that it is just across the state and not all the way over on the West Coast.”
Anderson said he doesn’t pay attention to other teams. So when he heard he got traded to the Rays he didn’t know they were in the hunt for the playoffs until a teammate told him.
“I play with the team I’m on and focus on the team I’m on,” Anderson said. “The day I got traded someone told me ‘dude you are going to a playoff team’ and I’m like ‘well, cool.’ I just try to play things day-to-day.”
With the Rays, Anderson posted a 3-0 record with a 2.11 ERA. In 23 games, he stuck out 41 hitters in 21 1/3 innings. For the season, he tallied 110 strikeouts in 65 innings.
The Rays finished the season with 96 wins earning them the second AL Wild Card spot. In the Wild Card game, they traveled to play the Oakland As.
In the one-game playoff, Anderson pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed one hit, but struck out four as the Rays won 5-1.
“Obviously it’s the playoffs and I had a little bit more going on,” Anderson said. “The juices were flowing a little bit more. Really I just tried to take it down a notch and downplay the situation. It’s just a baseball game and if you can treat it like it’s not a playoff game and still be motivated and focused that’s the best-case scenario.”
Next, the Rays played the Houston Astros in the American League Divisional Series and lost in five games. Anderson appeared in three games against the Astros and allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings with four strikeouts.
A key to Anderson’s rookie season success was treating every inning the same. He finally reached the big leagues after spending six years in the minor leagues.
“I try to treat it like baseball,” Anderson said. “It’s a game and go out and have fun and be competitive. I know I was a little bit older when I was a rookie, but I still played a decent amount and I know the ups and downs of it and how things can go. The results are the results and I happened to have a lot of good results last year.”