There is very little doubt in my mind that the last couple of days have been a roller coaster of emotion for Lars Anderson. He came tantalizingly close to gaining his freedom from the Red Sox. For Anderson, yes, it would have meant freedom. He is a first baseman, playing in Triple A, blocked by the probable MVP for the American League, for the next 7 years. Adrian Gonzalez is ensconced at first and that is why Lars became expendable in the mind of the Red Sox. He almost got out of “Shawshank.” Almost.
Anderson was taken out of the game at McCoy against Louisville on Saturday night as he was about to bat in the seventh inning. He wasn’t sure why at the time. Had he been traded? Was someone hurt up in Boston? The Red Sox called and told Arnie Beyeler to remove him from the ballgame. They had engineered a deal that brought Rich Harden from Oakland, sending Anderson back to the city where he was born, to play for the team he rooted for as a child. For a few fleeting moments, Lars Anderson was bound for the Athletics. As I left the park Saturday night, I ran into Lars, his father George and his dear, dear friend, Ryan Kalish. There was a look of uncertainty on all their faces. Lars and I have usually gotten along well. We have what I think is a real relationship. We talk about life and everything that goes with it. We have had heart to heart conversations. I like the guy. We hugged and said our goodbyes. Baseball is like that. Here one moment and gone the next. In this case, it was gone one moment and here the next.
After reviewing the medical records of Harden, the Red Sox deemed that he couldn’t pass a physical and nixed the deal. This happened in the wee hours of the morning. I awoke Sunday to find that Lars was still in the family. I caught up with him as soon as I arrived at McCoy. He was sitting in the chair in front of his locker, reading the current issue of “Rolling Stone” magazine. I approached him and broke the ice. “Man, I missed you while you were gone.” He managed a half-hearted smile, clearly exhausted by what had to be a sleepless night. He took me through the entire ordeal. First, he spoke about how he found out the deal fell through. “I was curious about the deal, so I went online late last night. I had been talking to a bunch of friends and family. I just read that the deal had fallen through.”
It was doubly frustrating for the 23 year old California native. He was heading home and to a place where he’d have a great shot at playing in the Majors soon. “From a personal standpoint it’s disappointing because I might have had an opportunity to play in the Big Leagues. I have to say, I am happy here. If this was a team I didn’t enjoy playing for, it would be a different story.” Anderson was saying all the right things, despite the disappointment that was in his eyes. “I grew up going to A’s games. I don’t know if I was headed for Oakland or not, but my folks live in Sacramento, so it would have been cool to be so close. I also think it would have been pretty intense. I think it might have been a little overwhelming at first. It’s all fantasy now. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to daydream about it.”
Lars was honest when he was asked how he felt. “I am mentally drained. I feel like I just woke up from a 12 hour dream. I guess I’m happy to be here.” Some guys can tell you what it’s like to be traded. Lars Anderson can tell you what it’s like to not be traded. I hope he takes some solace in knowing that there are teams out there that have high regard for his abilities. He may not be Adrian Gonzalez, but there is definitely a Major League job out there for Lars.