Chase Anderson carries late father’s presence to the mound

Chase Anderson gave up one run in six innings Thursday in his bid to solidify his place in the Diamondbacks starting rotation.

 SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When Chase Anderson finds himself with runners on base, he often looks toward the bleachers down the first-base line from the plate. Anderson’s father Robert used to position himself there during youth league games, occasionally tapping a finger on his head.

 It was Team Anderson’s signal to stay strong, and sometimes Anderson feels as if his dad is still there.

 "He always used to tell me on days when I started when he was alive — focus, focus, focus," Anderson said. 

 "You get in jams, just remember me in Little League, when I was behind the fence. I just have that visual of him when I’m in a jam. I look behind the backstop and feel like I see him there just kind of telling me to refocus."

 Anderson used it again Thursday, when he pitched in and out of trouble while giving up one run in six innings in his penultimate spring training start while attempting to work into the starting rotation.

 "It’s kind of an out-of-body experience," Anderson said. "I feel like he is right there on my shoulder, right next to me, just telling me you are blessed to play this game and enjoy every moment."

 High school games, minor league games, Robert Anderson stationed himself in the same spot, making almost every game despite a full work schedule and a second business mowing lawns. He passed away unexpectedly almost exactly three years ago, when Chase was in Arizona in spring training.

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 Anderson sees his father in himself in the clothes he wears. On the days he pitches, Anderson dresses in his father’s clothes. A pink polo shirt, heavily starched Wrangler blue jeans, a belt with a big "A" on the buckle and 14-year old ostrich skin boots. Not clothes like his father would have worn — his father’s clothes.

 "It’s tribute to him, because he got me where I am today," Anderson said. "My dad taught me the work ethic, keep proving people wrong, keep working hard."

 Robert Anderson was 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds — three inches and 20 pounds bigger than Chase. The jeans are 36 length, so they scrunch up at the bottom. But their waist size was the same, so everything fits. The boots are Tony Lamas.

 "I love them," Anderson said. 

 "If they had cleats on the bottom, I’d pitch in them."

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