By Bruce Levine–
MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — Left-hander Brett Anderson’s main job in Cubs spring training camp is to stay healthy.
The 29-year-old Anderson is hoping to land a rotation spot with the team after signing a one-year deal, as he battles left-hander Mike Montgomery for the No. 5 starter’s spot. Anderson is coming off a season in which he had back surgery and made just four appearances with the Dodgers, including three starts.
On Monday, Anderson threw a scoreless inning against the White Sox.
“It was good to get back in a game and not just face your own guys,” Anderson said. “I got through it. That is step one. Hopefully, now I can get back into a routine of being on the mound every five days.”
Anderson isn’t really a bullpen candidate for the Cubs, except for a possible long-man role. Since Anderson debuted in 2009, injuries have dominated his story arc. Not being too amped up and pushing too hard early in yet another comeback attempt is a top-of-mind focus for Anderson, who has a career 3.86 ERA.
“The biggest thing for me is being healthy and feeling good going forward,” Anderson said. “Everything after that should take care of itself. You don’t want to go out there and blow it out in your first two outings. We want to go out there with a purpose in mind. That is true if your pitching in a big league stadium or the backyard. I am happy with not giving up runs.”
The Cubs are considering using a six-man rotation for stretches of 2017, an idea that was actually hatched last season. In using such a system, the goal would be to protect pitchers after the Cubs have had deep postseason runs in back-to-back years, including a championship last season.
For now, Anderson isn’t preoccupied with the battle for the No. 5 rotation spot.
“That will work itself out,” Anderson said. “It’s always good to have competition. As a team, you can’t have too much depth. If I am healthy, everything will work its way out. I will take my chances after that.”
With a groundball rate of around 60 percent for his career, Anderson has proved to be an effective pitcher when healthy.
“I have never been a big strikeout guy,” he said. “My pitches were down in the zone (Monday). When the ball is on the ground, especially with this defense, it will be an out more times than it’s not.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.