DUNEDIN, Fla. – John Anderson has found his niche in the Toronto Blue Jays organization as an experienced leader.
The 25-year-old left-handed pitcher has been riddled with injuries over the past few years slowing down his development process.
Nonetheless, his love for the game has helped him overcome those issues, giving him confidence to have a veteran presence with the Class-A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays.
The soft-spoken Anderson was quick to point that he has had many ups and downs throughout his six-year minor-league career but still has a humble attitude towards his approach to the upcoming season.
“Primarily staying healthy, it’s been the downfall of my career over the past couple of years,” the lefty said. “Most importantly, going out and having fun and enjoying the experience. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to do this for, maybe 20 years or maybe I’ll be done after this year. I look forward to getting up every day and playing the day I love.”
Anderson has been around minor-league camp for over five years. He knows what to do, where to be, and how to prepare for spring training. He is embracing the leadership role that he has grown into.
“I’m one of the veterans around here, people look up to me, people respect me, that’s very cool,” he said. “I try to be a positive role model and set an example for everybody because I know a lot of the younger kids have heard about me; what I’ve gone through. I try to be a good example for the younger guys…
“I try to be friendly with everybody, I’m not one of those older ‘jerks’ that pushes guys around or hazes anybody. I know how it was my first year and it was pretty difficult for me. I want to make an easy transition for some of the younger guys.”
Anderson had three elbow surgeries over three years from 2010 to 2012, including two Tommy John operations. He admitted that it was tough to not to consider ending his professional career at that point.
He noted that it had a lot to do with the fact that he couldn’t pick up a baseball for six months at a time because he was always icing his shoulder. Regardless, he was able to become mentally stronger giving him more confidence on the mound moving forward.
“I’ve never been an outstanding player, not a huge prospect; that’s motivational for me in that aspect,” Anderson said. “I always want to get better and improve myself. Being out all that time fuelled my love for baseball. It made me want to get out there even more and be a better, stronger pitcher.”
Growing up in California, the southpaw looked up to veteran pitcher Randy Johnson, though his biggest influence was his dad’s emphasis on legendary Dodgers hurler Sandy Koufax. However, Anderson has matured over the years and feels confident that he can create his own legacy as a pitcher.
“Me being a left-handed pitcher, [Koufax] is a model for every left-hander,” the long-time fan said. “I’ve read his autobiography a million times. As I’ve gotten older, instead of mimicking what they do, I wanted to be unique to myself. I wanted make my own history; I’m trying to make my own left-handed pitcher.”
For now, Anderson is just happy to be part of a first-class organization and playing the sport he has been around his whole life.
“I just want to keep playing until someone tells me I’m not good enough,” he said. “You can kind of control your own destiny. You put what you want in, the game doesn’t owe you anything. If you love the game you’ll play until you die.”