Outfielder Garret Anderson was designated for assignment on Sunday by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who purchased the contract of outfielder-first baseman Jay Gibbons from Triple-A Albuquerque.
Anderson, who turned 38 years old on June 30, batted .181 in 80 games with two homers and 12 RBIs after signing with the club as a free agent in March. The three-time All-Star, who was used primarily as a backup outfielder and left-handed pinch-hitter, was in his 17th big league season. He spent last season with Atlanta after the Angels chose not to re-sign him.
Anderson played his first 2,013 games with the Angels and holds their franchise records in every major offensive category except home runs. He had the biggest hit in Angels history, a tiebreaking three-run double in game 7 of the 2000 World Series against San Francisco, and was the MVP of the 2003 All-Star game as well as the Home Run Derby champ that year.
”Gibbons probably all year long has been this guy producing down there, and Garret has been inconsistent here,” manager Joe Torre said. ”As tough as this was to do for me, because of how I respect this guy’s career and respect him as a person, we just felt we wanted to try something different. He took it obviously with a great deal of class. He said: ‘Thanks for the opportunity,’ and with that just slid away. I just wished him well.”
Gibbons, one of several players implicated in the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs December 2007, received a 15-game suspension a week before the report was released and later granted amnesty as part of an agreement between the players’ union and the owners for more frequent testing and increased authority for the MLB drug program’s outside administrator.
The Dodgers signed him on Dec. 22, and he batted .347 for Albuquerque with 19 home runs and 83 RBIs.
”I was sitting at home in Thousand Oaks (Calif.) watching the Dodgers, so it’s kind of surreal to be here now,” said Gibbons, who had season tickets to the Dodgers when he was in high school. ”I’m just very grateful that the Dodgers gave me an opportunity to show I can play again.
”I’d been to independent ball a couple of times and winter ball a couple of times, and I just felt energized when I playing winter ball this offseason,” he added. ”And when the Dodgers signed me, I just felt like I had nothing to lose. I was having a great time in Albuquerque, making the best of the situation and hoping this day would come.”
Gibbons, 33, spent his first seven big league seasons with Baltimore, batting .260 with 121 homers and 405 RBIs in 779 games. He was released on opening day of the 2008 season and was actually retired for a while, after signing with Milwaukee and then Florida as a free agent and never playing a game for either team.
”There were rumblings going around and the Orioles made it clear to me that they were going in a different direction, so I kind of saw the writing on the wall,” Gibbons recalled. ”At the time, I thought I was going to find a job somewhere else, but it didn’t turn out that way.
”My wife Laura had just had twin boys, and since them we’ve had a baby girl, so we’ve been pretty busy and I was able to occupy the time. But there was still that void. My whole life has been baseball, and I just wasn’t quite ready to give it up. I just couldn’t give it up. It’s been an interesting journey since then.”
Gibbons was the designated hitter on Saturday night for Albuquerque when manager Tim Wallach pulled him out of the game after his second plate appearance. But the game lasted about 5 hours, and he sat up in the clubhouse while his teammates turned a 12-0 deficit into a 13-12 extra-inning win.
”I got some hints during the next 4 hours of the game that something might happen,” Gibbons said. ”There was some scuffling going on between the two teams, and they just told me to stay out of it and go up to the clubhouse so that I wouldn’t get hurt. And when they told me that, I said to myself: ‘Why wouldn’t I go out and defend my team?’ So I kind of got the hint there.
”Then after the game, Wallach told me I was going up. I gave him a hug and that was it. I called my dad him this morning and he was on Cloud 9. He’ll be here today.”