Having watched Brett Anderson in Spring Training yesterday, it's clearer than ever that process is more important than results. Working on a routine, preparing in game situations, all of it is more important than the final line, which may or may not fairly represent what happened.
I write, of course, about Brett Anderson's hitting. The same is mostly true about his pitching yesterday: he gave up five runs on eight hits, but was brilliantly efficient through the first three innings. He was a hard-luck victim of a triple in the fifth, which probably should've been ruled a foul ball, but otherwise was reliable on an afternoon where the west wind was pushing the ball to -- or over -- the wall.
But I decided instead to watch Brett Anderson the Hitter. It must be a bizarre feeling to come from the American League, where you pitch and practice in a self-contained world, to the National League, where you're expected to be more or less a complete ballplayer. Whether the designated hitter is good or bad is beside the point (it is, for the record, a sad vestigiality of the era of AstroTurf and multisport stadia). The lords of baseball have spared the NL from the DH so far, and so Brett Anderson was standing on deck with a bat in his hand in Peoria yesterday.
Anderson saw three pitches the first time up before heading back to the dugout. He took the first pitch for a strike, reading it all the way into the catcher's glove, studying the ball's movement like he did while waiting on deck. He fouled off the second pitch, late on its arrival but still making contact. Buoyed by confidence, he swung hard at the third pitch, the bat carrying through the zone while his head looked at the sun-soaked fans above the first base dugout.
The walk back to the dugout was brief, since Peoria doesn't have much foul territory. Larry Walker, at camp as a special instructor, walked by Anderson and spit a sunflower seed, declining to offer any special instructions.
The hitter, like the starting pitcher, is required to shake off early setbacks, and so Anderson found his way to the plate later in the game. Before his at bat, Anderson saw a series of hits battered off of Tyson Ross. Once Jackson William bounced one off the outfield wall, Anderson's name was called (to no applause) and up he strode.
He bunted the first pitch, and it was a nice one. Anderson received the ball delicately and placed it right back to Ross on the infield grass. Ross, the catcher and the first baseman all converged, Ross braked, slipped, fell, and yet the ball still managed to beat Anderson to first. Still, it advanced Williams to third, and this time Anderson returned to the dugout, if not with heroic cheers from his teammates, at least with polite appreciation.
Anderson waited on deck in the 5th, but his turn didn't come, with Williams grounding out to end the top half of the inning. So Anderson led off the 6th, which was stalled while Bud Black waved to his new middle infielders to switch positions. Already, Anderson had coaches adjusting their defense.
Anderson swung on the second pitch, which glanced off the pitcher's glove while current second baseman (and former shortstop) Jace Peterson raced up the middle. The ball fell to Peterson's left, and with that Anderson had his first (practice) base hit as a major leaguer.
His tenure on the bases was brief, as he was cut down scrambling back to the bag after Drew Stubbs hit an infield pop up. Anderson's day on offense was over, but already the "process," the "routine," the all-encompassing "work" was producing results. Brett Anderson, starting pitcher, was becoming Anderson the Hitter.
Now to work on Anderson the Baserunner.