CLEVELAND — Cody Anderson is so excited to be nearing a position in which he can help the Indians again that he’ll do just about anything the team needs.
Pitch in the rotation? He’ll do it. Come in as a reliever? Sure. Bounce between the majors and Triple-A, racking up plenty of mileage on I-71? No problem.
Shoes need a shine? Sure, he’s your man. It doesn’t matter. He’s just glad he’ll have the chance to go through a normal spring training, rather than again being forced to watch on TV.
Anderson hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after he elected to undergo Tommy John surgery in March of 2017. For nearly two years, he’s been mostly relegated to the trainer’s room and the team’s complex in Arizona, grinding through a long, tedious rehab process. His progress back was slow, but he finally made it into some rehab appearances in the minor leagues late last season.
He’s now entering what he’d consider a normal offseason buildup into spring training. But even what he used to consider routine now makes for exciting progress.
“It was definitely a good feeling after you’ve put in 18, 19 months of rehab,” Anderson said, speaking about his minor-league appearances and the chance to get back on the mound. “It was definitely rewarding … I’m glad to go back to my normal bullpen [sessions] into spring training.”
Anderson burst onto the scene with the Indians in 2015, posting a 3.02 ERA and 4.27 FIP in 91 1/3 innings. He then came to camp in 2016 with a significant increase in his fastball velocity. But the optimism was short-lived. Anderson couldn’t find the same success, struggling to a 6.68 ERA in 60 2/3 innings in 2016. He spent part of the year in Triple-A, and ever since March of 2017 has been on the road back to full health.
It’s why he’s eager to do anything he can to help the team rather than watching on TV, even if it means he’s relegated to janitorial duties. Anderson could potentially again figure into the club’s organizational starting pitching depth at Triple-A. Manager Terry Francona said in October that the club would like to condition Anderson, along with Danny Salazar, as starters and then if an adjustment to the bullpen is needed, it can be made.
Anderson just wants to be on the mound in a meaningful game. It’s been too long.
“Not being able to contribute at all [was the toughest part],” Anderson said. “Not being able to eat some innings or bounce up and down from Triple-A, whatever they need me to do. … If they need me somewhere, I’ll do it. If they need me to clean shoes, I’ll do that. Whatever.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.