Anderson, Colon battle back
Both players overcome adversity to join Guerrero as All-Stars
DETROIT -- Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson and Bartolo Colon will represent the Angels at the 76th All-Star Game and, at first glance, it seems like a no-brainer that all three would be on the American League roster.Guerrero, of course, is never a surprise participant. He's the reigning American League Most Valuable Player and was voted in as a starter in the outfield for the second straight year. "Batting behind him and seeing what he does every day, he's a special talent," Anderson said. "He's amazing." Guerrero's numbers at the break are vintage Vladdy -- a .335 batting average, 16 home runs and 51 RBIs despite missing 18 games with a partially dislocated shoulder. His place in the Midsummer Classic was almost preordained. But Anderson and Colon earned their spots on the AL team after arduous and entirely unexpected year-long journeys through adversity. Anderson got four at-bats in his first All-Star Game in Milwaukee during the Angels' World Series championship year of 2002 and basically owned All-Star Weekend in 2003 in Chicago. Anderson was the upset winner of the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby and also took home Ted Williams All-Star MVP honors when he went 3-for-4 with a pivotal homer in the AL's dramatic come-from-behind win in U.S. Cellular Field. But in early 2004, Anderson experienced something completely new in the form of a major health concern. In late April, Anderson missed a few games because of pain in his upper back and shoulders and then was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career. That isn't a big deal for some players, but Anderson had played 150 or more games in the eight seasons prior to 2004 and had hit at least 28 homers and driven in at least 116 runs from 2000-2003. He was nothing if not consistent. But Anderson's confusion had nothing to do with his lack of playing time or his statistical stagnation while on the DL. It was bigger than that because doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. "At that time last year, I was more concerned with my health than anything," Anderson said. "Baseball wasn't even on my mind."
Eventually, the condition was diagnosed as an early form of arthritis. Anderson got the right medication, came back with a strong season -- .301 average, 14 homers, 75 RBIs -- and is an All-Star once again as the Angels' midseason RBI leader. He recently drove in the 1,000th run of his career."That year's behind me," Anderson said with a smile. "I learned a lot about myself and I'm moving on." So is Colon, whose first half of 2004, his first season with the Angels after signing a four-year, $51 million contract, was as rocky as the waterfall setting beyond the center-field fence in Angel Stadium. Colon, reeling from an ankle injury, started out 5-8 with a 6.57 ERA, making him the worst full-time starter in baseball. But the burly right-hander got healthy and so did his team. Colon figured some things out down the stretch and finished with 18 victories and 208 1/3 innings pitched, and he enters this All-Star Game, the second of his career, on the same roll. Colon is 11-5 with a 3.42 ERA, which means he's gone 23-9 with a 3.52 ERA in 227 2/3 innings pitched in roughly the last 12months. "It's a pleasure to be back in the All-Star Game," Colon said through an interpreter. "Sometimes, you have good months and bad months in a season, but this year, I feel healthy and strong and I've been able to keep it going. "It's exciting to be able to perform the way my teammates and fans expect me to." Guerrero has been doing that the entire time he's been in the AL and said winning the fan vote is still special no matter how many times he's accomplished it. "I just go out and try to do a great job while I'm here," Guerrero said through an interpreter. "If the fans vote me in, it's a great honor."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.