Red Sox' Anderson Ready To Put Difficult Season Behind Him

FORT MYERS, FLA.—A year ago, Lars Anderson arrived in spring training as the object of seemingly endless fascination. The 21-year-old received an invitation to big league camp on the strength of a 2008 season in which he excelled in both high Class A Lancaster and Double-A Portland.

Anderson, viewed as the top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was thrust into both fan and media prominence. Some Red Sox officials whispered their hope that Anderson, an 18th-round pick in 2006, would be ready for the majors as soon as the middle of the season.

Yet Anderson's straight-line progression through the minors took an abrupt downward turn in 2009. A return to Portland that was expected to be brief turned into a year-long struggle made worse by its visibility.

Anderson hit .233/.328/.345 with nine homers in Portland. He admits that he became overly analytical as his slump deepened, resulting in constant mechanical tweaks and an ongoing search for comfort with his lefthanded stroke.

After the season, Anderson took time off to travel, and then spent the rest of the offseason working out on his high school baseball field. He also used the offseason to gain perspective on his 2009 campaign.

"Being 21 and being in that situation, in that space of my life last year, there was a lot going on," Anderson said. "It's not good or bad. There is no judgment on it. It's just what happened. My goal after the season was, what can I take from that? I'm really happy with the way I've come back from that."

Anderson, now 22, showed indications of being at ease at the start of spring training in 2010. In early batting sessions, he was once again driving the ball with power to all fields.

Though it would be premature to suggest that Anderson had left behind his difficult 2009 campaign, the Red Sox remain optimistic about what lies ahead for the 6-foot-4, 215-pound first baseman.

"It's way too early to say (if he's left 2009 behind him). It's lying if anyone says otherwise," farm director Mike Hazen said. "In conversations with him, he seems ready to move on and focus on 2010."

Sox Yarns

• Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias had achieved an advanced command of the English language in just a few months of intensive study, communicating freely with teammates in spring training.

• Righthander Michael Bowden dropped about 10 pounds of muscle over the offseason in an effort to improve flexibility and smooth out his throwing mechanics.