There was a time John Anderson wasn’t sure he’d ever play baseball again, let alone get back to Triple-A. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 and 2011. A year later, he fractured his elbow.
“It was tough sitting on the training table with ice on my arm every day, wondering whether or not I was going to be able to pick up a ball again,” Anderson said.
All the adversity made Tuesday’s Buffalo Bisons’ 6-3 victory against the Louisville Bats a special night for the 27-year-old pitcher. Anderson earned his first career Triple-A victory eight years after the Blue Jays selected him in the 28th round of the draft.
“I’ve worked my tail off to get to this point in my career,” Anderson said. “I just want to play for as long as I can.”
The Bisons promoted Anderson from New Hampshire on June 13, his first call-up to the team this season. That day he checked off another box, getting his first Triple-A start. However, it was far from an ideal outing. He gave up five earned runs on 10 hits in a 5-0 loss to the Durham Bulls.
On Tuesday he bent, but did not break. He gave up seven hits but kept the Bats at a safe distance.
Anderson pitched five innings, cruising along for the first four. He forced Louisville batters into ground balls, getting seven of the first 12 batters to ground out.
“I was just trying to command the ball down in the zone,” Anderson said. “When my fastball is down in the zone it gets a little bit of sink. Guys seem to top the ball.”
Anderson lost that command in the fifth inning, giving up three runs and allowing the Bats to run through the order.
“During that fifth inning I started to labor a little bit,” Anderson said. “I lifted some balls up, started overthrowing. I know what I need to work on next time I’m out there.”
Anderson’s victory moved the Bisons to 38-34 on the season at the halfway mark.
Despite being on pace to be eight games over .500, Buffalo is in fourth place in the International League North where five the six teams are playin g.500 ball or better. The Bisons are six games behind the first-place Rochester Red Wings, who have won four in a row and nine of their last 12.
“Nobody in front of us is losing,” Allenson said.
“That’s the problem right there. We’re keeping our head above water. … We need to get some other guys clicking right now, get our confidence back.”
Any improvement for the Bisons in the second half will likely come at the bat. The Bisons 11th among 14 teams in the International League team batting with a .249 average.
“There’s a long way to go,” Allenson said. “I had a club in Ottawa in ’03 that won 21 games in August … Just staying in it right now is important. As far as I’m concerned we could get hot any time.”