PHOENIX -- Garret Anderson reported to his new employer on Saturday morning and, despite 16 years as a quality starting outfielder, didn't need anybody to break the news that he's fighting for a very limited role with the Dodgers. "They don't have to tell me about any role. All I have to do is look at the roster -- [Manny] Ramirez, [Matt] Kemp, [Andre] Ethier," Anderson said of the Dodgers starting outfield, not mentioning fourth outfielder Reed Johnson. "Nothing needs to be said. I know the situation, and I've accepted it." The situation: the Dodgers need a left-handed pinch-hitter. The competition: Brian Giles, whose knee might not allow his career to continue. And Doug Mientkiewicz, who still looks capable of swinging a bat, but whose damaged shoulder makes him a defensive question mark if he's needed in the field.
And Anderson? At 37, he's not the three-time All-Star left fielder he was with the Angels. And he doesn't figure to get anywhere near the 135 games he played for Atlanta last year, when he hit .268 with 13 homers and 61 RBIs. He said the tone was set last season when he tore his right calf muscle in Spring Training. "It was an uphill fight the rest of the season," he said. Anderson is a career .295 hitter with 2,501 hits, 285 homers and 1,353 RBIs. He's won two Silver Slugger Awards and has a string of 14 Opening Day starts. Now after a second year of free agency that again resulted in a Spring Training signing, Anderson said he accepts all that comes with being in the twilight of a stellar career. He's never come into a season preparing to be a pinch-hitter. He said he's done all he can to stay in shape back home in Orange County, but he hasn't taken batting practice off live pitching and estimates he will need "nine or 10 days" before he's game-ready.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.