Rays righty Nick Anderson, on the mend from surgery that installed a brace to stabilize a damaged ligament in his elbow, tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he’s progressing through rehab and currently throwing from 60 feet. The 31-year-old originally sustained a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in Spring Training 2021 but opted for rehab rather than Tommy John surgery after both the Rays’ medical staff and renowned surgeon Dr. Keith Meister advised that course of treatment. He returned to the big leagues in September but didn’t look close to his 2019-20 form in doing so. Anderson acknowledged that had he initially opted for surgery, he might be in a better place, rehab-wise, than he currently is, but explained that the decision is never so easy.
“Obviously, looking back at it, I’m like, well, shoot, I should have just got cut open right away when I had the injury,” says Anderson. “That would have solved that and I would have been back like the beginning of this year. But what do you do? You don’t ever really know. You just make a choice and roll with it, and hope it’s the right one.” Topkin notes that Anderson is expected back at some point in the middle of the 2021 season.
Some more from the division…
- Red Sox right-hander Garrett Whitlock proved to be a sensational find in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, emerging as a key reliever who helped fuel Boston’s return to the postseason in 2021. Whitlock, who’s been a starter for the majority of his career, tells Stan Grossfield of the Boston Globe that he enjoys starting and “love[s] the routine behind it and everything,” but he took a team-first approach in adding that the competitor in him will work in any role he’s asked. The Sox, however, clearly haven’t ruled out the possibility of Whitlock transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation at some point, though, as the right-hander himself explained. “They told me to come in prepared to be, like, fighting for a starting job, and they’ll reevaluate it from there,” says Whitlock. “So I’m going to build up and I’m going to go in and be as prepared as I can be.” The comments from Whitlock come amid a much lengthier profile of the right-hander — an interesting look at his back story and journey to the Majors, wherein he even opines that Tommy John surgery “saved his life” by giving him the needed downtime for valuable introspection and to get into a better place, mentally, than he had been previously.
- Matt Barnes’ 2021 was a tale of two seasons, as the Red Sox righty pitched to a dominant 2.25 ERA with a 42% strikeout rate through his first 44 innings before his performance fell off a cliff. Barnes yielded a dozen runs, surrendered four homers and walked nine batters in his final 10 2/3 innings of the season — a stretch of 10.13 ERA ball that led to what would’ve previously been an unthinkable omission from the postseason roster. Barnes, who signed a two-year extension worth $18.75MM in the midst of that hot streak during July, spoke to Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com about the manner in which his season spiraled out of control and expressed confidence in a 2022 rebound. Barnes called it the “craziest year of his life” and a “perfect storm” of circumstances that led to his struggles, beginning with the development of some bad habits when he’d pitched quite a bit in a short period of time. He then missed more than two weeks after a positive Covid-19 test and feels he “ran out of time” to recalibrate and get back into form. He’s owed $7.25MM in 2022 and $7.5MM in 2023 before the Sox must decide on an $8MM option for 2024, so a return to the form he showed up through early August is particularly important for both Barnes and the club.