Notes: LA's Anderson content with role
Utilityman just wants to win and believes he can help
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- When the Dodgers split up their roster for infield drills during Wednesday's first full-squad workout, Marlon Anderson was backing up Jeff Kent at second base.
But Anderson also will see time in the outfield, where he spent most of September looking like a lot more than the bargain pickup that he was for last year's stretch run, when he took over for sagging rookie Andre Ethier and wound up starting almost every day. The Dodgers went 11-3 in his starts.
Despite hitting .375 and slugging seven home runs in only 25 games after being acquired as a pinch-hitter from Washington for the stretch run, Anderson comes to camp penciled onto the bench and not the starting lineup. As well as he played, he watched the team go out and sign free-agent outfielders Juan Pierre and Luis Gonzalez.
"I was happy about it," he said. "They brought in winners and that's great for the team. I'm all about winning. I want to win my championship. I'll have ample opportunities to help us win games. I've been in the playoffs two of the last three years and was with St. Louis and got a taste of winning, and I understand how they work together to get it done."
Anderson sees himself in the kind of super-sub role that extended the careers of versatile players like Tony Phillips and Mark McLemore. Anderson's 50 pinch-hits from 2004-06 lead the Major Leagues. He said he is completely recovered from surgery Oct. 10 to remove bone chips from his throwing elbow.
Among Anderson's off-the-field interests, he's on the board of the Major League Baseball Players Association Trust, the union's charity arm. In that role he spent last Monday in New Orleans presenting a $1 million donation to launch the Volunteers of America Rental Housing Development Fund to help provide affordable housing to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"It was great providing an opportunity for some people to come home," said the native of Houston. "We heard first-hand some touching and emotional stories."
A Little uncertain: After saying on Tuesday that he'd decided on his leadoff hitter and hinted it might be Juan Pierre instead of Rafael Furcal, manager Grady Little backpedaled on Wednesday and seemed unsure.
"I keep weighing the pluses and minuses and, to be honest, I catch myself changing," said Little. "I'm not making a decision until I'm dead set that that's the way I want to go. Look at the people in the lineup, and we've got two good leadoff hitters and six more guys that could bat fourth. It's a good situation to be in.
"You could poll 20 of our staff on the leadoff guy and it would be about a 50-50 split. I'll be the tie-breaker."
Little said he hoped to have a decision by the start of games, but added that he wouldn't be hesitant to change, even during the season, if it isn't working.
To your health: Little said every player in camp, with the exception of rehabbing pitcher Yhency Brazoban, was sound enough to participate in all drills.
"It's especially good to see, knock on wood," Little said. "It's a blessing. It's not the way we came into camp last year."
That included Brett Tomko, one of nine pitchers to face hitters for the first time, even though his sprained ankle is still a little tender. Among other pitchers throwing to hitters were Opening Day starter Derek Lowe and fellow 16-game winner Brad Penny, slimmed down and throwing hard. Little praised Penny's conditioning and approach.
In Little's debut spring with the Dodgers, Eric Gagne, Kent, Furcal, Cesar Izturis and Jayson Werth were coming off operations, Brazoban was slowed all spring by a sore shoulder and Dioner Navarro pulled a hamstring. Before the first week of the season was over he had lost Gagne, Nomar Garciaparra and Kenny Lofton.
Asked if he was superstitious and worried he might jinx the situation, he said no.
"I don't think that has anything to do with the end result," he said.
Brazoban takes the mound: It was only 15 pitches, but it was a milestone for Brazoban, who threw off a mound for the first time since undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction last April.
"It felt good and made me happy," said Brazoban, who will follow with long toss Thursday, flat-mound throwing Friday and off the mound Saturday.
Brazoban is one of 12 Dodgers in camp who have undergone the procedure, invented by team doctor Frank Jobe as an experiment to prolong the career of John, the former Dodgers left-hander.
The roll call of Dodgers with transplanted ligaments, in addition to Brazoban: Luis Gonzalez, Hong-Chih Kuo (twice), Joe Mays, Mike Megrew, Rudy Seanez, Travis Smith, Eric Stults, Chin-Hui Tsao, Dario Veras, Matt White and Randy Wolf.
The Dodgers still don't expect Brazoban to appear in a Spring Training game or to be ready to help them before midseason. They do expect him to lose some weight and he has adjusted his diet.
"He feels good right now but he could go too fast and have a setback and that's something we don't want to have," said Little. "It would surprise me to see him in a game this spring."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.