“Back to Basics” – An Exclusive Interview with Red Sox prospect, Lars Anderson

The Boston Red Sox always seem to bring high quality talent through their system and unleash baseball stars onto the major league scene.  Well, get ready for the bright future of First Base prospect Lars Anderson.  After some very productive seasons in the minors and one big league camp under his belt, this budding slugger is ready to make his presence known in one of the most historic franchises in baseball history.  While this may seem like a daunting task, to Lars it’s all about getting back to the basics.

When did you know you had the talent to play in the majors?

LA: I always felt like I did, that was always my goal.  I’ve always kind of believed that, I don’t think that was something that I developed; I just always had that feeling.

What makes you unique as a hitter?

LA: I think everybody is unique, no one has the same stance, same swing, the same load, you know the same follow through so that’s kind of a tough question for me.

Well how would you categorize yourself as a hitter?

LA: I feel like I hit the ball in the gaps and sometimes I run into one and it backspins and turns into a home run.  But I think of myself as someone who hits it into the gap as opposed to someone who just goes up there to hit home runs.

Do you do anything in practice to try and maintain that gap to gap power?

LA: Not really, I am always trying to drive the ball and trying to backspin the ball, you just start off by trying to get loose and then start trying to drive the ball. Drive the ball to left and drive the ball to right and center.  But I don’t really focus on hitting the ball there. I just try and make a good swing, and try and center the ball. I am trying to hit the ball into the right center gap right now.

I’ve always heard that you’re not supposed to think about where it’s going just hitting it hard, is it as simple as that?

LA: You know it’s going real well if it is that simple.  When you start thinking a lot hitting does get complicated.

Usually what I hear when a guy is having a rough time at the plate is that they are thinking too much, is there something you do to try and calm your mind down when you get into a slump?

LA: Yeah, a lot of times you just try and get back to the basics.  I think when you get in a funk you try, well first thing is that everyone is telling you a way to get out of it, so one guy is telling you that you’re pulling your shoulder out, another guy is saying your foot’s getting down early and one guy is telling you that your head is moving.  So sometimes you try and take that all in and you’re trying to fix everything, and that’s way too much to think about.

How do you approach training in the batting cages?

LA: I have a routine that I do in the cage.  I hit off the tee, I do top hand and bottom hand off the tee.  Then I try to hit balls the other way, on and off the tee.  Then I do some underhand flips, always trying to stay behind the ball and work through the ball.  A routine is huge when you’re playing, it’s something that’s comfortable and something you can go back to when you’re struggling.

What is the best hitting tip you ever received and who gave it to you?

LA: Probably let your body do what it’s supposed to do and let your mind rest when you’re hitting.  It is a simple but effective thing that’s also kind of difficult to attain at times.

Have you altered your training at all to try for a big year in 2010?

LA: I just really try and get strong and be healthy by the time spring training starts.  Then try to get geared up, mentally prepared and get excited.

What was it like being drafted by the Red Sox?

LA: I was really exciting, they showed a lot of interest before the draft but I thought there were other teams that I was more likely to go to.  So it was kind of surprising but I was really happy when they took me.

Peter Gammons has said that you have one of the most natural “Fenway Park Swings” he’s ever seen, how do you respond to that?

LA: Oh it’s really cool, I love Peter, we talk a lot at camp because he’s always there working for NES now.  We like a lot of the same music so we talk about that a lot.  It’s really nice hearing something like that from him.  I think one of my strengths is driving the ball the other way, and Fenway has that big thing to bang the ball off of so it makes sense.  I don’t know if I have one of the best swings for Fenway but it’s defiantly to my advantage, but a ground ball to second base is a ground ball anywhere.

Tell me about being in big league spring training?

LA: It’s pretty exciting. I did it last year and this year is even more fun.  It’s really easy to get your work done and it’s really easy to work hard because everyone is pushing each other. It’s a really great environment to be in.

Who made the biggest impact on you at big league camp?

LA: Last year I really connected with Rocco Baldelli. We shared a lot of interests off the field that we were able to talk about.  This year there are a lot of guys that I connect with well.  Some guys that really stand out are guys like John Lackey who has really been cool, but I don’t talk as much to the pitchers; but guys like Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Ellsbury… pretty much all the position players have been really accepting and helpful.

We often see in the business of baseball these days, especially with big market teams that prospects become part of major trades, what’s more important for you, reaching the majors, or reaching the majors as a Red Sox?

LA: I really see myself as being with the Red Sox in the big leagues, but my goal is to be on a big league team regardless of who it is.  But I see myself with the Red Sox and that’s who I want to be with.  Making the big leagues would be great any way.

Do you have a goal for a year when you want to reach the majors?

LA: No, I just want to be ready when that time comes. I think it will happen when it needs to happen.

I read that you are in the starting lineup for the Sox first game this spring, how excited are you for that opportunity?

LA: Yeah I am, we’re playing Northeastern who is a good team from up north, a college team, so it will be fun, fun for them and good for us to play a game finally.

This young slugger got off to a good start this spring, with one hit and two runs scored against Northeastern, a spring that I am sure will be one to remember as we look back on the career of Lars Anderson, far down to road.

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