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Anderson ready to stay or go

By Don Ketchum

The Arizona Republic

Feb. 18, 1999

TUCSON - Brian Anderson is happy to be here for spring training with the Diamondbacks. And if the left-hander is traded to another team, as has been the speculation, he will be happy to go there.

After what happened to him a few weeks ago, he is happy to be anywhere.

It was on Jan. 29, the day before his marriage near his home in the Cleveland area. Anderson, driving a sport-utility vehicle, had exited a freeway and was the last in a line of cars sitting at a traffic light at the bottom of a ramp. A woman in a compact car moved down the ramp at a brisk pace, between 45 and 50 mph, by police estimates, didn't notice the cars were stopped and slammed into the back of Anderson's vehicle.

The impact pushed Anderson's vehicle into a mini-van in front of him and the mini-van into a pickup in front of it. The mini-van's rear window shattered all over the front of Anderson's vehicle, and the air bag deployed on Anderson's side.

"I smelled the explosion of the gunpowder when the bag came out. I was OK, and I tried like heck to get the bag off me because I thought my car might be on fire," Anderson said Wednesday.

"I got out and went back to check on the lady. I said, "Are you all right?' And she said, 'Yes, but I can't feel my legs.' I looked closer and one of her legs had snapped. Up until that point, I was going to help her get out, but I realized it would be better for the paramedics to help her."

Anderson went on to the wedding-rehearsal dinner, slightly shaken but otherwise unscathed, and said his "I do's" the next day. "I was a little sore and my neck was a bit stiff that next day, but that was about it," he said.

After he and his wife, Anna, went on their honeymoon, Anderson reported here amid talk of a possible departure as the result of the upgrading of the Diamondbacks' starting staff with left-hander Randy Johnson and right-handers Todd Stottlemyre and Armando Reynoso. Right-hander Andy Benes and lefty Omar Daal also return.

Left-handed control pitchers are a valuable commodity. Anderson, who was 12-13 in 32 starts last season, has been the object of other clubs' affections, but the Diamondbacks aren't going to just give him away. In fact, it is safe to say that the club now is leaning toward keeping him, using him as a long reliever and spot starter.

The uncertainty would cause some players to pull their hair out and lie awake at night. The talkative, free-spirited Anderson vows not to put himself in that category.

"It's not going to be, "Woe is me,' crying, stampin' my feet," he said. "That wouldn't be tolerated on this club. You have to check your ego at the door."

Before any decision is made, Manager Buck Showalter will call Anderson into his office and discuss all the possibilities.

"You're always looking for ways to upgrade your club, and he is a 27-year-old left-hander who pitched 200 innings last year, who has an upside and is affordable ($1.8 million in 1999)," Showalter said.

"But he can hold runners on, field his position, can throw strikes and competes like a son of a gun. I love his personality and his competitiveness. It would be sad to have to move him."

If a trade occurs, Anderson believes it will be later rather than sooner. And if it doesn't, he's willing to accept whatever role he is given, although he said he would be lying if he said he didn't want to be a starter.

"I figure that if we've improved our pitching staff enough for me to get pushed to the bullpen, that's a pretty good club, one you want to be a part of," Anderson said. "I guess I'll have to pray for a lot of rainouts and spot starts."

When Anderson starts, if a team gets to him, "they usually had better get to me early because I think I make adjustments pretty well, see what the hitters are trying to do.

"But as a reliever, it's totally different. You've gotta come out and do it right now. When I was with Cleveland, I wondered if I could do it, but I proved it on a pretty good stage, against Baltimore in the (1997) American League Championship Series."

Anderson has persevered during his young life and career. He survived a strange soreness that developed in his arm last season when he placed it across the seat of a cab while riding in Beverly Hills. He survived the recent accident. Whatever happens, he will survive this, too.

"The hitter stands in the box and you get him out the best way you can. Forget about all the other (stuff). It's that way in whatever league you play in - the majors, the minors, or beer-league softball."

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