Brett Anderson still has plenty of confidence in his ability to throw strikes and get batters out. But the way the 29-year-old is pitching looks nothing like the way he threw from the mound when he was drafted in 2006 by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
His professional baseball career has included a litany of injuries from Tommy John surgery (2011) to a stress fracture in his right foot (2012) to a broken left index finger (2014) and surgery to repair a bulging disc in his lower back (2016).
But he keeps coming back. And now he has a fresh start with the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Anderson made his organizational debut Saturday, starting for the Buffalo Bisons.
He was sharp, giving up one run in four innings. But there was only one run scored in the game and he took the loss as the Gwinnett Braves took the 1-0 win at Coca-Cola Field.
"I felt a little rusty in the first. A little nervous because I hadn't pitched in a couple weeks," said Anderson, who last started on July 20. "All things considered once I got through the first couple hitters and got a little bit of a rhythm it was pretty good."
Anderson said he physically felt good. He knew he'd be on a limited pitch count and was surprised to go four full innings, throwing 51 pitches, 36 for strikes. He gave up one run, set up by a bloop double in the first. He gave up three hits with no walks and one strike out.
Anderson has continued to plug away at a baseball career that has been derailed often for injuries. He's only enjoyed one injury-free season, when he started 31 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015.
Anderson started 2017 with the Chicago Cubs, going 2-2 with an 8.18 earned run average in six starts. He went on the disabled list with a back injury and was released after five starts in Double-A Tennessee.
But those injuries, well, they've just made his journey more interesting.
"I'm not old. I'm 29 and I don't really feel like getting a real job at this point," Anderson said.
"I had Tommy John and so my stuff, velocity wise, didn't fully come back. And then you evolve over time because unless your Clayton Kershaw you adapt or die. I've had to deal with some of those things and if you had told how I pitch now six or seven years ago, I'd have called you a liar. But dealing with some of the circumstances I've dealt with, you have to adapt and change. It's an ever-evolving process. I've had to evolve more than most but I still feel like I'm a more-than able pitcher."
One-hit wonders: The Bisons managed just one hit -- a bunt single from Dwight Smith Jr. in the first. Four Gwinnet pitchers combined to one-hit the Herd with Akeel Morris picking up the win.
It was the fifth time in 30 seasons at Coca-Cola Field that the opposing team tossed a one-hitter. It was the first time the Herd was one-hit twice in one season at home. Caleb Smith did it with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a rain-shortened 7 1/2 inning game on June 18.
The lone run: Gwinnett took a 1-0 lead when Ronald Acuna scored on an RBI ground out by Rio Ruiz.
Rain delay: The game started 50 minutes late as a rain shower blew through downtown Buffalo.
Roster moves: After being pulled from his scheduled start on Friday, T.J. House had his contract selected by the Toronto Blue Jays. Right-handed reliever Wil Browning was placed on the Bisons disabled list.
Taking the oath: Approximately 35 "Poolees" from the United States Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program took the Oath of Enlistment before the game.
Attendance: For the fourth straight game, Coca-Cola Field housed more than 10,000 fans. Saturday there were 15,556 for Superhero Night.
Up next: The Bisons finish the homestand at 1:05 p.m. Sunday with righty Luis Santos scheduled to start for the Herd against Gwinnett righty Manny Barreda.
The Bisons then have a seven-game road trip with four games at Pawtucket and two in Rochester. The Herd returns to Coca-Cola Field for their final homestand of 2017 Aug. 28-31 when they host Pawtucket.