A spring baseball story to make you smile

Matt Anderson was the first overall pick in the 1997 draft. (Duane Burleson/AP Photo)

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- In the eighth inning Monday, Matt Anderson faced three Toronto Blue Jays hitters who have never played above single A. Aged 22, 20 and 22, they were kids when Anderson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft and could throw 103 m.p.h.

But when Travis D'Arnaud swung and missed at an Anderson breaking ball, the 34-year-old pitcher literally jumped off the mound. He pumped his fist and ran into the Phillies dugout.

Matt Anderson had not pitched in an organized game of baseball since 2008 after tearing a muscle under his armpit in 2002. He last pitched in the majors six years ago. In the eighth inning Monday, he hit 95 m.p.h. on the radar gun and retired the side in order.

"It was totally awesome," Anderson said. "You can't really put into words what I'm feeling right now. It's something I've been going to bed with the last two years thinking about and it finally came around."

Could this be the last time we even mention Matt Anderson this spring? Sure. But during the eighth inning of a meaningless Grapefruit League game on a sun-soaked Monday afternoon in Florida, a 34-year-old man proved he could still do it.

It's a spring training story that can make you smile.

Wearing No. 88, Anderson said he expects to make the Phillies out of spring training. He talked a mile a minute until a Phillies PR official abruptly ended the interview so Anderson could catch the team bus back to Clearwater.

"In the winter, I was at 96, 97 [mp.h.]," Anderson said. "So I figure I got about 103, 104, 105 left in me. So I'm really excited about where I'm at."

He smiled. No, Matt Anderson did not win a roster spot Monday. Hell, he barely even moved the needle. But Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee probably saw enough to merit another big-league appearance soon this spring. And if that one goes well too, who knows?

"I mean, hell, he got three outs," Manuel said.

And on Monday, that's all that mattered.

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