PAWTUCKET -- The way Lars Anderson figures it, versatility is the key to getting back to the Boston Red Sox.
That’s why the Pawtucket Red Sox first baseman called Mike Hazen, now Boston’s Vice President and Assistant General Manager, last November and asked that he be considered for an outfield position.
Given Adrian Gonzalez’ contract with Boston, he figured, “Why not?
“He told me he thought it was a good idea, and that he would talk to the powers-that-be,” Anderson, 24, said in the clubhouse prior to Pawtucket’s tilt against the Columbus Clippers on Sunday morning.
He actually had been called up to the parent club last September 13 as a first baseman, and played in six games through the end of the season. He saw his first appearance in a Major League uniform that day against Toronto, pinch-running for current first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
He finished 0-for-5 with a pair of runs scored.
On April 23, Anderson – a 6-foot-5, 195-pounder who’s now in his sixth year in the Red Sox organization – received another call-up to the Red Sox, this time as an outfielder. He remained there until being sent back to Pawtucket on May 2.
While with the PawSox this season, he made his first career start in left against Lehigh Valley on April 9; that came after 639 games as a first baseman.
“I played left field, and I liked it,” Anderson offered. “It’s something different; I thought it was fun, and I didn’t find it that difficult to change over (from first base). I really don’t mind playing in the outfield, as it long as it means I’m going to get called back up.”
When former Boston/Pawtucket outfielder Josh Reddick came to Fenway as a member of the Oakland A’s a few weeks back, he was asked what he thought of Anderson’s chances as an outfielder.
“I kind of take a little credit for helping Lars out in the outfield,” Reddick mentioned. “Last year when we were playing together, we’d always shag fly balls during batting practice. I’m happy that he’s been able to make that transition to help him become more versatile.”
All told, Anderson had played in 24 career big-league tilts, all with Boston, over the past two seasons (prior to his April stint).
“Any time he gets the chance to go out there, you hope he gets a few balls what he has to go into the gap and make a play, or a ball going over his head and he has to hit a cutoff man,” noted PawSox skipper Arnie Beyeler. “Anybody can throw the ball up and catch it when they hit to him – you can throw anybody out there to do that.
“(But) it’s those repetitions of game speed – runner on third, getting behind the ball or hitting the cutoff man. It’s things like that that are going to be successful at the next level.
“I really think he likes being out there,” he added. “It’s something different for him. He’s been a first baseman for so long that he enjoys going out there because it’s a change. It’s a breath of fresh air for him to go out there and do something different. He enjoys it.”
So far this year, Anderson is hitting .245 with one homer, 13 RBI and 13 runs scored in 25 tilts, but he’s second on the team in doubles with 10. (Mauro Gomez, who was called up to Boston on Sunday morning, led Pawtucket with 11).
He was back at first on Sunday, the same spot he played on Saturday night against the Clippers. (The Sox needed three hours and 30 minutes to edge Columbus, 7-6, and register their fourth straight victory and eighth in their last nine games).
Scott Podsednik, acquired by the Red Sox from the Philadelphia Phillies (by way of Lehigh Valley) for cash considerations on Friday night, started in left field for the PawSox on Sunday.
He claimed before the game he was more than looking forward to it.
“It just feel good to still be playing,” Podsednik, 36, said. “I’m a little up there in age, and I’ve been around, playing with a number of teams. It feels good just to have a uniform on.”
The biggest hassle, he laughed, was trekking from Louisville, where the Iron Pigs had been playing.
“It took me a day to get here,” he sighed. “I had to fly from Louisville to Philadelphia, then I had to rent a car to drive from Philly to Lehigh. I hit some traffic around New York – what’s new? – but the whole trip is a big blur. I can’t remember all of the details.
“I just want to get out there and play,” he added.
Podsednik had spent the entire season with Lehigh Valley, where was hitting .203 (15-for-74) in 22 tilts with four RBI and six stolen bags.
The lefty from Dallas has played 10 seasons in the majors, including Seattle (2001-02), Milwaukee (2003-04), Chicago White Sox (2005-07), Colorado (2008), back with the White Sox (2009), Kansas City (2010) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2010).
In 1,016 big-league contests, he’s posted a .279 career average with 41 dingers, 300 RBI and 301 stolen bases. In 2003, he captured National League Rookie of the Year laurels (he hit .314 in 154 games with the Brewers), and – in 2004 – he led the majors with 70 robbed bags (still a Milwaukee record).
As for 2005, he earned American League All-Star status after batting .290 and stealing 59 bases for the White Sox), and actually drilled a walkoff homer in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series between the White Sox and Houston.
In other news, Boston placed outfielder Darnell McDonald on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to May 12) with a right oblique strain and selected Gomez to its active roster.
To make room for him, the club transferred Jacoby Ellsbury to the 60-day disabled list, stated Ben Cherington, the Red Sox’ Executive Vice President/General Manager.
For Gomez, who wore No. 50, it was his first-ever stint in the big leagues. Before the call-up, the 27-year-old ranks second in the Interscholastic League with 10 homers, 11 two-baggers (tied), 22 runs scored and eight walks.
Ellsbury, 28, had been placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 14 with a right shoulder subluxation. He appeared in just seven games with the Red Sox to open the season before suffering the injury the day before.