When we got to know Brett Anderson earlier this winter, one thing was really hard not to note rather loudly: here’s a guy who’s been injured A LOT throughout his relatively young career.
Among his many DL trips, the most recent (and certainly most currently relevant) was triggered by 2016 March back surgery that cost him nearly all of last season.
“A year ago,” writes Carrie Muskat of Cubs.com, “Anderson’s back was OK until the last couple of pitches during a live batting practice session. He was then shut down.”
Anderson had back surgery in March and was eventually was sent to the 60-day disabled list, where he would remain until the middle of August. Combined with a blister issue late in the season, Anderson wound up making just three starts all of last year.
Fortunately, things appear to be going well for the Cubs’ new southpaw so far, as Anderson even tweeted that he made it through his first bullpen session “unscathed.” And that is no small feat, all things considered.
I made it through my first bullpen unscathed…small victory.
— Brett Anderson (@BAnderson3737) February 15, 2017
Later, Anderson even said that although he didn’t make too many appearances at the end of last season (i.e after coming back from the back surgery), that doesn’t appear to be something that’ll spill into this year. “As far as arm and back stuff, I was able to clear those hurdles and pitch and throw. I’m ready.” (Cubs.com) So long as he keeps up with his daily back exercises, Anderson hopes it won’t be an issue going forward.
That would be great news for the Chicago Cubs, who are just the latest team to dream on the rotational upside of a healthy Brett Anderson. The Cubs built some protection for themselves into his incentive-laden contract, as the guaranteed portion is just $3.5 million. But if he pitches enough to push that all the way up to $10 million, I expect the Cubs will be plenty happy to pay it.
Fortunately for the Cubs (and for Anderson, if it means extra rest that could keep him healthy), Mike Montgomery is also healthy and ready to step into the rotation, as soon as he’s needed. With Spring Training games around the corner, the Cubs can and will take things slowly, and let the rotation work itself out naturally.
Anderson and Montgomery both figure to make their Cactus League debut in the first week of Spring Training, as the Cubs hold other members of the rotation back for a little bit.