Limiting damage a step forward for Anderson

March 10th, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG -- For right-hander , this spring is about a reset and celebrating the small victories that can build confidence.

Anderson struggled early in his third appearance of Spring Training on Friday, but he settled down and allowed one run on one hit in 3 2/3 innings in a 3-2 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Control was an issue at times for Anderson. The 24-year-old hit Yandy Díaz, the first batter he faced, and walked three, but he worked out of trouble over 58 pitches (31 strikes).

“You never want to start off hitting a guy, especially in Spring Training,” Anderson said. “The first two pitches were fine, and we tried to go inside on the third pitch and went a little too far inside. That can rattle you a little bit.”

The walks hurt Anderson in the second inning. Vidal Bruján drew a free pass leading off, and the speedy infielder scored on a single by Charlie Culberson.

“I’m not super happy with the walks,” Anderson said. “But I feel like I did a good job of battling. Things sped up on me, but once I was able to calm it down, I was good.”

Overall, Anderson called it a positive step forward. Braves manager Brian Snitker agreed, and he said he hoped that Anderson -- one of the keys to Atlanta’s World Series championship run in 2021 -- can continue his road back from a tough ‘22.

Anderson had a 5.00 ERA over 22 starts last season with the Braves. He posted a 5.40 ERA over four starts with Triple-A Gwinnett before being shut down for the year with a left oblique strain.

“It’s hard when all that kind of stuff happens,” Snitker said. “I think he’s got the mental toughness to overcome it. Every positive you can find coming back is good for you. Today, he finished a lot better than he started.”

Snitker said that Anderson will need to continue to work on his control. He credited Anderson for going to his changeup to get him out of trouble a few times.

Anderson agreed that his command deserted him last season. But he has since allowed himself to mentally reset and get healthy to be effective in the next stage of his career.

“The competitor in me thought I could figure it out on the fly,” Anderson said. “But I wasn’t in a good space to do that. Getting hurt [stunk], and missing out on the playoffs [stunk]. But I think it was good for me to have a complete reset, get healthy, finish the rehab process and get started on what I wanted to work on.”

• Snitker said that right-handed reliever  is healthy and throwing on the back fields, and he will eventually get into some games. "We just didn't want to rush him because of the workload last year," Snitker said of the 35-year-old McHugh, who tied his career high with 58 appearances in 2022.

• The Braves optioned right-handers Seth Elledge, Roddery Muñoz (their No. 21 prospect per MLB Pipeline) and Darius Vines (No. 8) to Gwinnett and reassigned righty Alan Rangel (No. 26) and infielders Cal Conley (No. 13) and Luke Waddell to Minor League camp. Atlanta now has 53 players in camp.