PEORIA, Ariz. -- Garret Anderson hasn't felt this good in a long time. "Since the end of '03," the Angels' venerable left fielder said on Friday morning. Knock on wood, the brand wielded by Anderson for 13 Major League seasons.
Since 2004, when he experienced what he calls "inflammation issues with my joints," Anderson has played through discomfort whenever possible and yielded to pain at times, such as during that '04 season, when he played 112 games -- after averaging 157 games for eight seasons. From 2000-2003, Anderson averaged 30 homers and 120 RBIs, putting him in a class attended by few hitters. Watching Anderson hit, run, field and throw this spring, manager Mike Scioscia sees that player back in form, ready to bust out the whipping stick. "His physical skills haven't been diminished by age as much as by injury," Scioscia said, "and I think it's going to show this year. I think he's doing things that he did before he was banged up. Everything is back to where it was a couple years ago. "As of now, he hasn't had to alter one thing. He's done everything, every baserunning drill, every outfield drill, everything. He's feeling good playing baseball -- and that's a good thing to see." Anderson will tell you he's never had a serious injury -- by his definition, something that needed surgical attention. But he has endured a series of aches and pains in the past few seasons, even though there was nothing terribly wrong with 17 homers and 96 RBIs in 2005. He's coming off a subpar season, hitting .280 -- 19 points off his career average -- with 17 homers and 85 RBIs. A modified training program featuring more stretching than in the past has his body feeling younger and more elastic this spring. "Having a spur in your foot ... it's the luck of the draw," he said, referring to one of those aggravating issues of the past few seasons. "Your body's changing. From that standpoint, it's just something you deal with. "I started early, and most 34-year-olds haven't played this much. I have a lot of miles on my body." Anderson enters into his 14th season with 2,081 career hits, but 3,000 -- a magical number that catches the attention of Hall of Fame voters -- isn't yet on Anderson's private radar.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.