ANAHEIM — The Angels have been spinning around the bases at a dizzying pace lately, so it's easy for a rookie to get lost in the dust. After all, it's kind of hard to make an impression when the center fielder hits two homers and the right fielder scores four runs.
But left fielder Garret Anderson is doing his best to be noticed.
Notice he's hit safely in 10 of the last 11 games with a .417 batting average in that stretch.
Notice he has four homers in the last nine days.
Notice he has driven in 15 runs since July 14.
Notice his batting average has climbed to .320, second-best on the team.
Oh, and you're probably not going to notice him in left field. He's so smooth he makes everything look easy. Saturday night's gliding catch of a drive off the bat of Detroit's Derrick White was a case in point.
You can bet Manager Sparky Anderson and the Tigers are taking notice, though. In the last six games against Detroit, Anderson has 14 hits in 25 at-bats with 10 runs batted in.
During Saturday night's 13-3 Angel victory, he drove in a run with a first-inning single, got another RBI and scored a run after a third-inning single, walked to load the bases in the sixth after his shot down the right-field line was inches foul and lined a single to center leading off the eighth.
"He's got a lot of confidence right now," hitting instructor Rod Carew said. "At times, he tries to pull everything, but he's learning to hit the ball where it's pitched."
He's learning fast. He's had only 125 major league at-bats this season and Saturday night he had two opposite-field hits and one to center.
And just in case Manager Marcel Lachemann considered a platoon--or even resting him--the left-handed hitting Anderson is batting .414 against left-handed pitchers.
"I'm really focused right now and I'm hitting the ball pretty well," Anderson said, "but I really get in tune for the left-handers. I want to play every day and the best way to do that is to prove I can hit left-handers."
Anderson, optioned to Vancouver when the rosters were trimmed to the 25-player limit May 15 so he could play every day, was recalled June 7. He didn't need much time to prove he could play every day in the majors. Six weeks later, he's almost as entrenched in left as Tim Salmon is in right or Jim Edmonds is in center.
"This has really been a lot of fun," Anderson said. "Everybody is just so loose. Even when we lose one like we did [Friday], we're still very confident. You can't win them all. Teams aren't going to roll over. But we know we'll be right back at it the next day."
The fans may have been \o7 ooohing \f7 at Edmonds' two towering homers and \o7 aaahing \f7 at Salmon's three-hit, four-run performance, but there was at least one guy in the dugout who had his eye on the other Angel in the outfield.
"Lost in the shuffle?" Lachemann said. "Maybe to you, but certainly not to me. He's a fine hitter with a great swing and it doesn't hurt to be around a lot of guys who are swinging the bat like the guys on this team."
If good hitting is indeed contagious, Anderson has the fever.
And he's hot.