09/22/2002 6:10 pm ET
Frustrated Anderson keeps working
By Ed Eagle / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Where have you gone, Jimmy Anderson?
Anderson's 85 starts over the past three seasons are by far the most of anyone on the Bucs staff. But since being demoted to the bullpen after giving up five runs in three innings to the Cardinals on August 13th, the 26-year-old southpaw has become almost a forgotten man.
In the 37 games the Pirates have played since that last start, including their 5-4 win over the Cubs on Sunday, Anderson has appeared only three times. He's tossed just 1 1/3 innings in the month of September.
The lack of mound time has been a most unwelcome change for Anderson.
"When you don't get a chance to get out there and compete, it's definitely frustrating," said Anderson. "But, I just have to go get ready for the off-season and come back next year."
Despite his inactivity in games, Anderson has not "mailed in" in the last month of the season. He continues to work regularly with bullpen coach Bruce Tanner.
"Bruce and I have been working on some stuff to quicken up my windup, make it more consistent and be a little faster from the stretch," said Anderson. "It's just something to be more consistent with so that I don't have to worry about throwing strikes, just going out and getting hitters out."
"His attitude's been great, believe it or not," added Tanner. "The first two or three days down there he was really bitter. But from then on he's been good."
While Anderson has taken the demotion in a professional manner, he does believe that he has been singled out because he will be arbitration-eligible at the end of the season.
"Talking to other people that I know and people on the team, when it's an arbitration year, a lot of stuff comes out and it seems to happen," he said. "You just kind of accept it and go with it."
Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield responded to Anderson's comments on his weekly radio show Sunday.
"We're looking for performers and that's really all that we're about at this time," said Littlefield. "Those that perform will get the opportunity."
There is no denying that Anderson's performance has been inconsistent during his three-plus seasons with the Bucs. At the time of his demotion, he was 8-13 with a 5.04 ERA. He is just 24-42 with a 5.17 ERA for his career.
"We certainly know what Jimmy is capable of doing, both good and bad," said Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon. "He's just got to be consistent in what he's trying to accomplish.
"Hopefully, this off-season his workout regimen, his work habits and his pitching habits will be such that it will allow him to become a better pitcher, a more consistent pitcher.
"He certainly has the stuff to pitch at this level. We all know it just hasn't been on a consistent basis."
While many critics have pointed to Anderson's weight as the primary reason that he has struggled in the big leagues, McClendon disagrees with that assessment.
"I think everybody in the organization would like to see him come in a little lighter," said McClendon. "But that's not my main focus. My main focus is the technique, rhythm and things that can help him find a consistent arm slot.
"I, for one, just feel that if he was a little lighter it would help. That's not foolproof. That isn't the reason he's been pitching bad. The reason he hasn't been consistent this year is because the arm slot just hasn't been there and he needs to get that shored up."
Despite his disappointment over the way the last month has unfolded, Anderson is still hopeful that he can return to the Pirates next season.
"I'd like to come back because we didn't finish too good, and I think we've got some good players here," he said. "Obviously, we did a lot better this year than we did last year. I think it's only going to get better. But it's really not up to me."
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.