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Making a name for himself

Posted by Maureen Mullen December 25, 2008 05:57 AM

It’s usually not until after an illustrious career that a player has a landmark named after him. Just ask Carlton Fisk or Johnny Pesky.

But when Lars Anderson makes his Fenway Park debut, possibly sometime in 2009, his surroundings will include a park, an auto museum, and a bonsai collection bearing his name.

Sort of.

“I am aware of that, but it’s spelled with a ‘z’ I think,” said Anderson, referring to the wealthy businessman and ambassador to Japan Larz Anderson. “But I think that would be a cool way to spell my name.”

Anderson, who turned 21 in September, is ready to make a name for himself. Drafted in 2006 out of Jesuit High School in Carmichael, Calif., in the 18th round (553rd overall), Anderson opted for a professional career rather than college at Berkeley. He’s finding the decision worthwhile. After being named Boston’s No. 5 prospect by Baseball America after his first season in 2007, he is currently ranked as the franchise’s best prospect and No. 8 in the American League. BA also rates him the best hitter for average in the Boston system and its best power hitter. He knows expectations are high.

“I guess the proper response is I don’t pay attention to them,” he said. “I have to thank God I’m healthy is the way to approach it. I’m beginning to see that self-awareness is the way to go. I’m aware of [the expectations], that they’re there, there’s no denying they’re there. … So this is just another thing that I’m aware of, but I try not to put too much stock into it because what is the pressure based on? What is the expectation based on?

“The thing that makes me wonder is that the people who have these expectations, how many of them have ever seen me play? That’s what I want to know, because then it’s like a firsthand thing. … As long as I know what the people who are making the decisions think and [what I expect from] myself, that’s what I should be focusing on. I think I put more pressure on myself than anybody else anyway.”

Anderson was speaking by phone during a family vacation in Maui on a day when Mother Nature was exercising her might in New England. He will soon experience his first New England winter, as one of the select minor leaguers brought to Boston for the Sox’ annual development program next month.

“I’m not looking forward to [the weather],” he said. “It sounds like I should bring some warm clothes.”

Despite an injury to his right wrist last season, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound first baseman, who bats and throws left-handed, earned a promotion from Single-A Lancaster, where he hit .317 with 13 homers and 50 RBI in 77 games, to Double-A Portland (.316, five homers, 30 RBI in 41 games).
Anderson has been mentioned as a possible future Sox first baseman or designated hitter, or possibly even a left fielder — with a lot of ifs. If DH David Ortiz isn’t healthy. Or if third baseman Mike Lowell isn’t healthy and first baseman Kevin Youkilis has to move across the diamond. Or if left fielder Jason Bay doesn’t return after 2009.

“I think it would be foolish to even think about it until something happens,” he said. “I think the important thing is that I’m not in the big leagues. I’m far from the big leagues. For it even to be an issue, I still have to improve immensely, and that remains to be seen how my progression will be.”

His parents are artists — his mother a painter, his father a metal sculptor. Anderson likes drawing, especially in pastels. His favorite player growing up was Rickey Henderson, and he said he considers Gabe Kapler, his manager with Single-A Greenville in 2007, a “true professional.” He enjoys reading. He plays the guitar. Jimi Hendrix is his guitar hero, but lately he’s been listening to a lot of Grateful Dead, and he considers Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page a “monster.”

What would he like Sox fans to know about him?

“I don’t know if I want them knowing anything about myself,” he said. “I think anything about me they should discover on their own. … I guess I’m just like anybody else, that I happen to have some sort of talent in one thing and it doesn’t make me any different than anybody else.
Everybody has something, and I happen to like playing baseball.”

Maureen Mullen covers the Red Sox for OT and can be reached at mmullen@globe.com


10 comments so far...
  1. Tell the Manchld to "swing-away" this year. We need him and his club to do battle with the Evil Empire in Beantown! Come have some fun thisyear with the New Boys of October.

    Posted by rdonahue@winfoundryusa.com December 26, 08 04:09 PM
  1. Gotta love the "feet squarely on the ground" attitude of this young man.....He helps take the sting out of Tex signing with the Yanks......I firmly believe that we will be better off in the long run with this young man instead of Tex......As with every world series championship, health and a little bit of luck is needed. But especially health, as we found out this last season......Go Sox!!!!!

    Posted by minico dirt dawg December 26, 08 07:15 PM
  1. I need to see this kid in Pawtucket this year. Let's go, Lars!

    Posted by KL December 26, 08 07:41 PM
  1. I think the pride is greater for a franchise when they raise their own. But don't rush a good prospect. Spend a full year at AAA

    Posted by Dogs4Pals December 26, 08 07:53 PM
  1. Lars needs to just work on his development . Listen to his coaches and play within his abilities; do not try to do to much, his time will come.

    Posted by pierre December 27, 08 09:04 AM
  1. I wonder if he grew up next to Bill Walton and his kids. Seriously though, hopefully he has a great year and we see some more power develop (Lancaster doesn't count).

    Posted by jaredk December 27, 08 01:52 PM
  1. Whether he spells it Lars or Larz, Mr. Anderson is one intelligent young man.

    And yes, I've seen him play. Impressive.

    Posted by duinne December 27, 08 04:11 PM
  1. the sox were a few clitch hits away from taking division and home field with a good chance to reach the world series. ortiz variteck lowrie and ellsbury left a zillion runners on base ..to go into o9 with the same lineup could see us finish in third place or worse . /////////.

    Posted by tom jempty December 28, 08 12:43 PM
  1. ok tommy boy stop talking... u just said that they were a few clUtch hits away from reaching the WS and that entering a season with the same lineup will have them in third place? how does that make sense? yea the yankees lineup was bolstered with the tex aquisition, but what else is different? Almost every player on the rays had a career year last season, and will need to repeat that just to compete. If ortiz stays healthy, his numbers will far surpass those of 08. varitek suffered last season, and basically there is no way to go but up--same with Els during last fall. The bottom line: the sox struggled and were the second best team in the league, the rays had a season that was highly improbable, and barely eeked out a series win, the yankees remain impotent in october, and you need to use spell check.

    Posted by Andy December 30, 08 03:55 AM
  1. Is Lars good on the defensive end?


    Anyway, GO SOX!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by LarzFan14 January 18, 09 04:07 PM
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Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. A long-time sportswriter and columnist, Pierce is a frequent guest on national TV and radio.
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