07/14/2003 11:40 PM ET
Anderson plays it cool
Angel not overly emotional about Derby win
CHICAGO -- Garret Anderson, the epitome of the word consistent, proved it once again on a grand baseball stage, pulling an upset in the Home Run Derby.
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
His reaction? Not such an upset.
Anderson, the Anaheim Angels' left fielder, 2002 World Series star, early American League MVP candidate, and even this week's AL Player of the Week, had a typical Anderson reaction to his big win in front of a 47,619 homer-happy fans in U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night.
Not a lot of emotion.
"I just want to go to sleep," Anderson said, claiming he was just physically tired from pumping seven homers out of the yard in the first round, six in the semifinals to beat his former teammate, Jim Edmonds, and nine in the final to edge St. Louis' Albert Pujols.
Anderson found out he was going to compete a few days ago and expressed surprise, saying, "I'm sure some guys said no and I got filtered down through the cracks."
That might have been true, but when given the opportunity, Anderson gave the Chicago fans some cracks of his own.
Despite the fact that Anderson has been more of a gap-to-gap guy than a home run hitter throughout his 10-year career, he managed to alter his approach Friday night against batting-practice pitcher Dave Valle, and it paid off.
He also took advantage of Pujols possibly falling victim to fatigue in the final round after clubbing a record-tying 14 long balls in his semifinal against Jason Giambi.
At least that's what his father, Garret Sr., said.
"It looked like Pujols got a little tired at the end, which helped Garret," Garret Sr. said. "Garret didn't try to muscle it. He just tried to get it over the fence and use his endurance."
And he tried a different mental approach than the one he's brought to the plate in his big-league career.
"That swing that I was using tonight is not a swing that I try to use during the season," said Anderson, who has 22 homers so far this year and has a season high of 35, which he accomplished in 2000.
"It was just strictly for trying to hit balls over the fence. During the season, mentally and physically I don't do that. I look for mistakes and try to hit them hard."
Fortunately for Anderson, Valle didn't make too many mistakes.
"He just hit my bat," Anderson said. "He was throwing the ball in a good spot for me and luckily I hit enough of them out to win the contest."
Valle said Anderson was the perfect kind of hitter for success in this realm.
"Garret's got such a sweet, smooth stroke," Valle said. "It seemed like every time I threw it down the middle, he hit it out of the park. He just has that nice, effortless backspin swing. The ball just takes off."
Anderson might not register as a prototypical slugger in the American baseball conscience, but other Major Leaguers know how good he is. That was evident in the locker rooms after his Monday night show.
"He's a phenomenal hitter," said Giambi, whose 23 total home runs in two rounds outdid Anderson's 22 in three.
"It doesn't matter how far you hit it, you just have to put it in play. That's what he does. He has that short, compact swing. It's a great swing. It didn't surprise me at all."
It did, however, surprise Anderson, despite his usual lack of emotion.
Maybe a little bit.
"It was just an honor to be asked," he said.
"But I know I'm capable of hitting some balls out of the park, and it's just another platform to go out and show America what I can do."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.